INTERVIEW: CREWGAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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After 20 years in the music tech industry, Susan French is on a mission to make it a safer, more accessible place for everyone. Starting with an ethos of care and safety for everyone, she founded CrewGal, a female-led company giving women and marginalised communities the resources and support they need to build a career in music tech.

It’s about growing a skilled, productive, professional workforce that can turn their hand to anything regardless of their gender or background,” says French.

Whether through training, well-being packages or community forums, CrewGal aims to make sure everyone is looked after regardless of who they are, something that French says is still an uphill battle. “Our industry is really unregulated. It’s very cut off which leaves it wide open for women to be under-represented and treated badly in the workplace. It’s always been seen as a man’s job – when I first came into the industry 20 years ago, I’d be one of the only women on site-builds, we weren’t really accepted. It was a boy’s club really: they didn’t want anything to change and didn’t think that women could do the job.”

when I first came into the industry 20 years ago, I’d be one of the only women on site-builds, we weren’t really accepted

Hearing too many stories from women facing issues and behaviours that shouldn’t be seen in the workplace in 2023, CrewGal has fought to make positive change, opening doors for women and offering them the support they need for a career in live entertainment. CrewGal’s marketing officer and musician Eliza Lee says industry reaction has been mixed. “It’s early days, but we don’t just want to be having conversations. We want practical action, being on site and making change which is where we ruffle some feathers! We have had a lot of support too. There’s demand there – artists are starting to put out calls for all-female crews and we want to make sure, particularly in the North East, that we can accommodate that.”

Despite the industry challenges of recent years, CrewGal are full of hope and ambition for the future of live entertainment. “When you look at our thriving music industry in the North East, this should be quite a safety net for finding work, there’s so much going on. You shouldn’t have to leave home to find the career you want,” says French.

It feels like there’s a spotlight on the North East at the moment,” Lee says, “and I think it’s all up from here. Hopefully people will get involved and see it as the start of a career.”

Hoping to inspire and encourage women who think music tech isn’t for them, CrewGal are hosting a Women In Music Tech Taster event at NX Newcastle on Monday 31st July, offering practical workshops, Q&As with industry professionals and a chance to network and make connections that could kickstart a career in tech.

Determined to throw open the doors, sharing opportunities, contacts and skills, they’re also launching a podcast in August, which will be a safe space for people to share their experiences and gain in-depth industry knowledge.

It’s about opening up the conversation, and making our industry approachable and accessible for everyone, no matter who they are.”

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