Entry into the creative sector >>View Video>>
My Dad was involved in radio all our lives; he used to manage radio stations and bring in the DJs, producers, sponsors for the shows so we literally grew up around DJs. Our Saturday afternoons with our Dad usually consisted of ending up in some radio station somewhere playing with all the buttons that we shouldn’t be while Dad was busy organising something with a DJ or a producer. We always got to meet great personalities, though we had no clue at the time as kids who they were.
I always thought I’d get into broadcasting. I didn’t in the end because by the time I was 17, I understood what came with that… the goods and the bads and the uglies. I spent a brief stint djing on a community radio station.
Events were always something I was involved with in college. That’s where I actually got to know David Reid, the founder of Minding Creative Minds. We were in a student union together – I was events officer, he was clubs and socs, then he went onto be president, I was vice-president etc. From that moment on we were always into running gigs and events involving good acts, unsigned or signed, but really good acts that we felt would go far. So that was my entry into the creative sector as well as coming from a large family with alot of musicians.
More of a business route >>View Video>>
In my early 20s, myself and Dave had formed a PR company called Roc PR, we thought we were going to be the next best thing in the media business and obviously learned the hard way that you have to go really slowly and work your way up.
Dave continued on the music side and I decided to go down more of a business route. At the time I was in retail and staffing, paying my bills (I was renting in Dublin) and I was getting more and more involved in sponsorship, brand management and marketing. I’ve always been a great relationship builder and I understood how brands and sponsors want to be connected with positive impact projects and they also want their brand out there. When the Choice Music Prize with Dave at the helm came around I was always in the background helping out wherever it was needed. Happy to support.
I’m either normally on the event operations side or helping to put the event together at the early development stages so I’m really lucky in the sense that I get to put my hands on a lot of areas around events and creative sectors.
I’m finishing now in June after four years in a global non-for-profit so I understand how that works as I support operations in 27 countries/ regions.
I’ve always been involved somewhere in helping people out in their education. I am a trainer and lecturer part-time. I run my own event agency and I’m contracting all the time so I’m either under the radar helping agencies or event owners on projects or I’m bringing people in for them, so all around me it’s developing people, helping people in their careers or helping new start ups.
I have a lot of evening students who are coming back to study because they’re sometimes unsettled in what they’re doing and they want to go down the event management and marketing route. Some of them don’t necessarily realise until they’re getting into it that working in events is a hard slog – you’ve got to prove yourself based on your last job and really work your way up, build your network and get a reputation then hopefully an agency pulls you in and says, “I see your talent, in you come and we have a job for you”. There’s a lot of upset that comes with this industry, there are a lot of times when you feel fabulous and a lot of people who feel very down when they’re down or their confidence suffers a lot in their initial stages in Industry. We’ve been talking about the mental health effects on the event industry for years and the whole creative sector in general.
Minding Creative Minds >>View Video>>
Dave approached me about Minding Creative Minds during the concept stage. Myself and the other members of the board once appointed were talking about the chosen provider Spectrum. The one winning, unique selling point was getting financial, legal and career advice involved as well, so it wasn’t just that it’s a counselling/psychology service, there was mediation and conflict resolution, there’s help with contracts and there’s help with your finances. There’s a lovely holistic, well rounded offer of help and assistance being provided – that was the idea that Dave came forward with and I just fell in love with it there and then.
I wanted to be involved from the start. Especially when Dave said to me, “Look, this is going to need a lot of funding and a lot of people behind it and we’re gonna need a lot of support”, and I said, “OK, rope me in, I’m there, sign me up”.
Challenging emotionally >>View Video>>
I’ve always been around people in the events, media and creative sector and I see how it affects people. Even in our own household – when times are good, it’s great, but when times are bad, it’s really bad like recessions. In the Irish landscape in general, it can be great for months and then dead for months and then back. It has quite a substantial effect on family when you have those stress levels and financial stresses.
I deal with a lot of directors and company owners as well as clients, some with artists bookers etc and you don’t know necessarily the mood you’re gonna meet them in; whether it’s a good month or a bad month so you’re having to build up a tolerance, a patience, an understanding and empathy around the fact that there’s a lot going on in people’s minds, one has to be mindful of that. The creative sector, and definitely the live events industry in, can be very tough and challenging emotionally.
Having someone creative in the family brings certain dynamics. When they leave, they need to have this performance persona because they’re now going out into the public or they’re going to work whether they’re on stage or live on TV or what have you. Sometimes you may get a profile built up in society very quickly, especially in a small society; it doesn’t take a lot of time to build up your profile or your personality with the right team, and then you go home and you have to return to your role as Mammy or Daddy. Anything that’s going on in their career life has an effect in the home place I believe. I think that can be very difficult for partners to be dealing with that as well. Everyone needs support there. That’s where we can help out I’d hope.
Inclusive >>View Video>>
Sometimes in the live music industry, and especially in the events industry, I know myself, there is a fear that comes from this lack of inclusion that sometimes we have in Ireland; a perception that if you’re a family man or you’re a family woman, we can’t expect you to do the late nights or we can’t expect you to turn up at the weekend so they’re not gonna give you the job. I think we have to do a lot of work on inclusion in Ireland; we don’t seem to understand the basic concepts of accessibility and inclusion.
Nothing is taken away from the professional person because they’ve a young family or if they’re involved in family situations at home. I think in a humane society it should be a case of, “Well that’s OK, that comes with the person, if anything that helps them grow, that helps them flourish”. As long as they can do the job they say they can, what else is there to be involved in a hiring or billing decision.
I see a lot of artists struggle when they have children needing to be minded or they need help with parents who are elderly or sick and they’re stuck with a sense of, “trying to further myself in my career and I’m being pulled back here and I can’t do both”. This thought cycle can really get people stuck in a place of personal conflict.
With a lot of people I’ve spoken to in the events or any industry, a guilt trip comes with wanting to further yourself and knowing that your kids might have to go to a minder or a creche as you need that support.
I know myself with two parents who aren’t in great health, when I had the little fella I was very much going to be relying on my husband,and friends when I have to go away for three days or a week or I’m going down to Limerick or Killarney for something. You really need that help and it’s a constant internal struggle about the fact that you’re pulling yourself away from “being a good Mom” and I’m sure Dads feel the same because I’ve spoken to a lot of them about it. You’re really caught in a bit of turmoil there, “Do I continue to push myself and keep my reputation doing a good job for the person who’s hiring me, doing a good performance if you’re a performer etc or do I retreat back into family life and leave the opportunity to someone else?” If you do the latter then you don’t have the opportunity to even provide for your family so it’s a real catch 22. In Ireland we really need to do a bit of work there on the supports that are needed for parents, for family people, and all to be honest, to feel confident and comfortable; that it is acceptable to have a young family in this industry and you won’t be bypassed for opportunities or promotion.
I’d say more than 50 times, I’ve met people who have walked by their chances to have a family because they felt that it would hinder their careers; in a lot of cases they’re going on tour or working a lot abroad and feel they can’t do both so they decide openly to just not get involved – either walking away from family or not getting involved in a situation where they could have been absolutely madly in love with a person and taken that to the next stage but they walk away from it. For any industry to ask people to do that, is not correct. You could say, “Well we’re not”. Well then we need to look at things and say, “Really, are all of the best practices in place? Are we really inclusive?” I’m working in the industry a long time, I’ve been actively involved in advancing gender balanced leadership and D& I for 4 years. I care about this industry a lot -I don’t believe our events and media industry is inclusive so we’ve a bit of work to do there and we will do it. We’ll come together and we’ll make it right. It’s not to say other countries are better either, but it’s about how we in Ireland might like our creative, events and media sector to be recognised as a sector of good practise.
Other areas are of personal insecurity that leads to conflict Sometimes it’s just down to the individual, it may be something they can’t permit themselves to do. That’s where I think Minding Creative Minds can really help somebody in conflict or where they’re in a relationship and they’re feeling there’s conflict starting to build; there’s a sense of unsettlement happening. That’s the right time to sit in front of somebody who’s been there and done that and can potentially help with good advice.
Celtic Tiger crash >>View Video>>
Myself, being in the live events sector, a service like Minding Creative Minds was something that I had longed for 10 years ago when the austerity came, you know in 2009 when the Celtic Tiger crashed?
You really had to pull your grit together, resilience and really challenge yourself to stay in the workplace and to keep getting employed, get your bills paid, stay in events, stay in marketing and all this in a time when they’re the first areas that get killed off in the budgets. Brands say, “Ah yeah OK that’s a great spend but it’s a nice to do, kill that”. That was a time when you really would have loved to have a service that was just dedicated to the creative or events sector, that’s really what I would have loved. Now you see EPIC and you see Minding Creative Minds and there’s more help than there ever was.
Hand-holding service >>View Video>>
At Minding Creative Minds we’re picking up at a time when there’s a really big need for the service to be provided. I see it as this hand-holding service for anyone who’s starting their career as a creative so whether that’s a singer-songwriting or a performer or they’re in a panto or in theatre trying to make their way or trying to be a presenter on RTÉ or Virgin Media or work in the live events industry, there is so much opportunity and so many amazing people who potentially have not thought about sharing their wisdom or haven’t had the opportunity to come into a network or an environment with a platform where they can share their advice, share their experience. Peer mentoring and a career service is something that could grow to be an amazing, amazing tool, so that people have a place to go.
I’d love to see Minding Creative Minds get to a point where we have a hand-holding service for our mental health and we also have it for career. For example: Am I an artist who’s about to perform at a festival and I need a contract with my Ts and Cs laid out clearly? Am I looking for an agent? Am I looking for help with my finances because I need them to freeze for the three months when I’m not performing and I don’t have revenue? These are questions everyone in the creative sector has that Minding Creative Minds can help with.
Many of the artists and agents are entrepreneurs; most of them are self-employed, have their own business. Most artists themselves have to become self employed at some point for their own business purposes. I think there’s a lot of help needed there around entrepreneurship because people starting out in the sector know what they want to create and they see their vision but they haven’t thought about the marketing or the public relations or the social media or the legal or the business side of that.
I’d love to see Minding Creative Minds develop to a point where we can really provide that really well whether it’s through peer circles or some kind of mentoring service. For that, you need to bring people in from the industry who’ve been there and done that regardless of how big or well known they are; if they’ve done it and they’ve done it well, then are they willing to share the knowledge? So I guess that’s where you’re at next – who your peer mentors might be. I’d love to see that help with putting together the showreels and things like that. There is amazing work we can do around this because it’s very scattered and broken at the moment; it’s not really pulled in or polished yet and I think we could do that really well. We have all the talent right here in the Industry and some even within the organisation itself.
Engage >>View Video>>
If the creative sector knows that this is an amazing service being provided and we want to provide this service and we want to develop this service in every way we can, well then we need you, we need the creative community to engage, we need you to come to the Meet and Greets and tell us what you want, we need you to engage with the service because otherwise if you don’t engage with the service and it’s two years, three years down the line and the usage isn’t high then what’s the need for the service? We’re going to really struggle to continue getting it funded and keep it sustainable so I guess if we want the service to continue for the sector then we have to ask everyone in that community to use Minding Creative Minds or tell somebody about it.
I really believe genuinely that every single one of us knows somebody in their mind straight away who would benefit from Minding Creative Minds. We can’t allow it to become a placemat, it has to be something that stays vibrant and continues to grow so we need our community to help us with that.
People don’t realise that the financial help we provide could be 30 minutes on how do I get rid of a debt that has accrued or wasn’t fairly disclosed etc? Or If you are in a bit of a situation where somebody hasn’t paid you, you might ask how do I pursue that to get paid? Or I’m in a situation where I’ve had no live events for a year, so obviously the income is gone, how do I freeze my mortgage or how do I deal with a landlord for three months or six months? That’s the advice they can get from Minding Creative Minds. It’s got a wonderful counselling service but it is not at all just counselling, it’s finance and legal and career.
Remember, if you’re a member of the Irish creative industry, you can talk to a counsellor free of charge at any time of the day or night. Simply call the phone number below.