Head of SSD Concerts resigns after allegations of ‘toxic’ work environment
Steve Davis, head of Newcastle music company SSD Concerts, which runs the This Is Tomorrow festival and numerous live events in the city, has resigned following allegations of inappropriate behaviour at the company.
SSD’s Instagram account had been hacked last month to display negative reviews of the company posted on the website Glassdoor. Employees had described sexual harassment and complained of poor payment practices and a lack of health and safety measures in a “toxic” work environment. One former employee claimed to have been subjected to “vile, sexual comments”.
The company runs four music festivals – This Is Tomorrow, Hit the North, Bingley Weekender and Corbridge festival – and five venues in Newcastle and Tynemouth. The company pioneered the socially distanced live music venue Virgin Money Unity Arena in 2020, and promotes concerts at other venues in the city.
Chart-topping Newcastle singer-songwriter Sam Fender is among those who have cut ties with the company. On Monday he wrote on Twitter: “I’ve been completely overwhelmed this week after hearing so many shocking stories from our beloved north-east music scene … there is absolutely no place for harassment.” He called for “a more inclusive industry, that is a safe space for all”.
Davis said he had resigned from his position as managing director and would have no further role with the company. He said: “It would appear some people have been upset or made to feel uncomfortable while working at SSD and for that I’m truly sorry.”
He said that he had “strived to conduct business in the right way … I am sorry for any mistakes I have made along the way, it has never been my intention. I would never want to upset or make anyone feel uncomfortable. If that has been the case, then I am shocked and saddened and am truly sorry. I will learn from any examples of such behaviour.”
He added: “The seriousness of what has been anonymously alleged – and the hateful response to these claims – has seriously affected my family.”
SSD Concerts told NME it would be commissioning an independent investigation into the allegations.
Other artists who were due to perform concerts promoted by SSD, including Idles and Kelly Lee Owens, have cut ties with the company in recent days.
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