Crowdfunder set up to help artists who pulled out of Hit The North over SSD Concerts allegations

"The North East is better than this and we can rebuild our scene"

A GoFundMe crowdfunder has been set up to help the artists who pulled out of today’s Hit The North Festival over allegations levelled at the event’s promoters, SSD Concerts.

The managing director of the northeast-based company, Steve Davis, resigned with “immediate effect” back in April, shortly after former staff members accused SSD of “underpaying” workers and making them feel “uncomfortable” while doing their job.

The promoters initially denied the claims, calling them “false and malicious”, and insisting that they do “not tolerate bullying, harassment or discrimination in any form”. Artists including Sam Fender, IDLES and Kelly Lee Owens subsequently severed ties with SSD.

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SSD Concerts then said that an independent investigation would be held, writing in a statement to NME: “The wellbeing of our team is of the upmost importance and any allegations of this nature must be investigated thoroughly.”

The company explained that it would be “taking steps to ensure that all shows will go ahead” and is promoting Hit The North Festival 2021, which is taking place in Newcastle today (October 23).

It comes after SSD yesterday (October 22) addressed “serious sexual allegations”. The promoters wrote that “no evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct was found against the managing director” during an independent HR investigation. SSD did, however, acknowledge that it “could and should have done better” in relation to poor business practices (via Chronicle Live).

Sports Team, Oscar Lang, NOISY and Vistas are among the artists who have taken to social media to boycott the festival, which is taking place in Newcastle today (October 23), due to its link to SSD.

Sports Team
Sports Team were one of the artists to pull out of Hit The North. CREDIT: Andy Ford

A GoFundMe has now been set up by event manager Cole Gilroy to help cover the costs of a free replacement show for the artists who pulled out of the festival.

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“Today is ‘Hit The North’ Festival which should be a celebration of our venue infrastructure and talent in the North East,” a statement on the GoFundMe page reads. “However organisers, SSD Concerts have failed to sufficiently address ongoing claims of abuse which has led to many artists rightly pulling out of the festival.

“We are putting on a free show at Head of Steam 23/10/21 for a number of artists let down by the organiser and need help with costs that these artists will lose out on. We also hope to raise enough to help working crew etc who will alos be losing out after whats been a terrible time for this industry over the last 2 years.”

The statement concluded: “Any help is appreciated, the North East is better than this and we can rebuild our scene.”

The replacement gig will take place tonight (October 23) at Newcastle’s Head of Steam, situated right across from Newcastle Central Station. So far, NOISY and Macca Wiles have been confirmed to perform at the new show.

You can donate and find out more information here.

Hit The North Festival is yet to comment on the mass cancellations. NME has contacted the event for comment.

Following the HR investigation, Steve Davis said in a statement: This has been a very sobering process to go through. I haven’t always got things right and if this has affected anyone, I am sorry. I thank all staff past and present for their honesty and feedback which will help the business move forward.”

Investigators concluded their report: “Overall, the level of familiarity between employees and Steve Davis as managing director has blurred the boundaries of professional relationships within the workplace which has been exacerbated by the industry within which they work.

“Some ACAS courses were booked for attendance by Steve Davis and other employees with management responsibilities. This would go some way to help provide some understanding with regards to the issues related to harassment, equality, diversity, and inclusivity.”

They continued: “The reflections of Steve Davis are reassuring. He has a level of awareness from this process and these events and will not engage in any contact or conversation that could lend itself to misinterpretation again in the future, reinforced by the fact there is now executive director awareness and oversight.”

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