It’s been a milestone year for live music company DHP Family flying the flag for the independents. The company welcomed more than 1.5 million people through their doors in 2023 across its portfolio of venues, shows, tours, club nights and festivals, as well as being crowned National Festival Promoter of the Year.
DHP Family MD George Akins said: “It’s been a great year across the board for us in 2023, it feels like the gloom of the early 2020s is becoming a distant memory now that we’ve moved past our final pandemic rescheduled shows and all areas of the business are trading very well. We’ve won awards across our industry-leading venues and diverse festival portfolio, and I’m very proud of what we have achieved this year, from sold out events, to record beating club nights; exceptional funds raised for our charity partner Framework, and an expanded festival offering, which included for the first time, the four-day camping event Bearded Theory – a personal highlight of the year.”
Anton Lockwood, Director of Live, leads the team of promoters programming shows all over the UK, as well as putting on a sell out 30th anniversary run of shows at London’s iconic venue, The Garage and a special 20th anniversary week of events at Rescue Rooms in their home city of Nottingham.
Anton said: “2023 was a hell of a year! Cost of living crisis, and everything getting way more expensive in touring continue to be huge challenges for the industry as a whole, but I’m proud of the way our independent and flexible organisation at DHP is able to deal with everything that’s thrown at us, and deliver a stellar programme of tours and festivals. Great to see our venues The Garage and Rescue Rooms reaching the milestones of 30 and 20 years respectively celebrating with incredible shows from the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Frank Turner, Mogwai and Sugababes. At the same time we relentlessly developed new artists like Kneecap, Antony Szmierek, Cardinal Black, L’Imperatrice and Green Lung – this year we really showed both that we build things that last, but we don’t rest on our laurels and are continually moving forward.”
DHP promoters Scott Kennedy, Conrad Rogan and Josh Ward have worked with a number of exciting new artists throughout the year with their highlights including sell out shows for High Vis at Islington Assembly Hall; Prima Queen at Lafayette and Viagra Boys at the start of the year. It was also one of best ever Dot To Dot Festivals and the return of MIRRORS in Hackney has all supported the DHP offering for new acts.
Josh said: “There have been some great shows this year, and it’s been brilliant to watch a lot of the new artists we’ve been working with for the last couple of years really grow and come into their own. It’s been good for us to be carving out our own niches as promoters. Ultimately, we’re all in it because we love music and discovering new artists, when we’re able to work with these new acts and help them develop from grassroots venues to big arenas, it’s an incredible feeling and something we’re all always really proud to be a part of.”
Scott said: “The sold-out High Vis show at Islington Assembly Hall was a big step up. It was a massive moment for the band, and a very special moment for me as a promoter having worked with them from the beginning. It was a great night and they really deserve it.”
Conrad said: “Seeing Prima Queen sell out Lafayette without a record was special for me as well, as well as the sold-out Viagra Boys show at the start of the year. Plus, we had one of our best ever Dot To Dot Festivals and the return of MIRRORS which has all supported our offering for new acts.”
This year has also seen the team put on more festivals than ever before – Beat The Streets in support of Framework; Foolhardy Folk Festival in collaboration with Beans on Toast; the newly crowned Metropolitan Festival of the Year Dot To Dot taking place on consecutive days in Bristol and Nottingham; the 4-day camping festival Bearded Theory at Catton Park, Derbyshire; the long established Splendour in Nottingham and the returning MIRRORS in London.
Festival booker Ben Ryles said: “It’s been a pleasure working across our festivals in what has been a really busy 2023. Highlights include programming our first Bearded Theory festival, bringing back MIRRORS, Dot To Dot continuing to go from strength to strength, and a third successive sold out Foolhardy Folk Festival. Winning Promoter of the Year at this year’s UK Festival Awards was obviously fantastic and having all of the team’s hard work recognised on a national level is brilliant.”
Head of Marketing Anwyn Williams said: “The team has worked very hard to deliver all the successes we’ve had – from the incredible fundraising of Beat The Streets in January, to the hugely positive response to our first year at Bearded Theory, our second 2-day Splendour Festival, the resurrection of MIRRORS in October and everything in between. We’re all really proud of the amazing events we’ve put on and everything we’ve achieved this year, and to be recognised with the Promoter of the Year Award was incredible.”
Area manager Michele Somers is championing the night-time economy, heading up Nottingham Pubwatch and taking up as role as a Night Time Ambassador via the NTIA.
“2023 was an epic year for the NTE but it was not without its struggles. Safety, staff welfare, security staff shortages and financial pressures continue to threaten an industry still recovering from a long post-covid hangover. But when we are up against it those who work and champion the industry rally together to support, protect and lobby the powers that be to cement change that will see post 6pm businesses thrive and make the UK’s NTE something of we can be proud.”
Looking forward to 2024, the outlook for the company is looking good, with strong sales for shows and festivals and a great reaction for Bearded Theory’s first announcement.
Anton sums it up, saying: “Well I’ve got tours from two of my all time favourite artists to announce, but can’t tell you about those yet!! But most looking forward to seeing the achievements from everyone on our team, promoters, marketing, ticketing, production, accounts and beyond – our people have stepped up in 2023, and there’s more to come!”