Saoirse Holland, events director of family-focused festival Raver Tots, says she is on a mission to empower women and promote inclusivity within the live events industry. Since joining the Raver Tot’s team full-time after lockdown Holland has managed 11 festivals and UK tours in the past year with more than 100,000 people in attendance. This year Raver Tot’s launched new events in Kent and Newcastle.
What inspired you to launch Raver Tots?
There’s lots of children’s activities out there but we felt there weren’t many that you can do as a family, which the parents and children can enjoy together. There are a lot of events for adults but a lot of them aren’t appropriate for children or go on too late. Music festivals are something that all generations can access and experience together, it’s a great day out to have as a family.
How has Raver Tots grown since lockdown?
We’ve added a lot more areas since lockdown. As well as our 11 outdoor festivals with a combined capacity of 100,000, we host club shows. We also launched in Ibiza this year and hosted a boat party – we hope to do some more in the clubs out there.
What are your expansion ambitions?
Our main goal is to do more overseas. There’s also a lot of places in the UK that we haven’t done and we get a lot of requests to go there. We’re a small team so it’s quite hard to stretch ourselves but we’re building to cover more areas and go overseas.
How do you plan to empower women and promote inclusivity at Raver Tots?
There’s two areas to focus on. The first is to create an inclusive environment that women feel more comfortable in. Then the focus needs to be on getting more women to join the industry. It’s an industry that people fall into – you don’t hear many children saying they want to be a rigger or be part of a production team when they grow up. It’s something that people find later on and it’s something that women don’t really consider, and I think they should. My favourite thing is setting up special effects and not many women get to experience that. I’d love to encourage more of them to come down. A lot of our workforce is contracted in so I’d like to find companies that celebrate and support diversity.
What more can the industry do?
There’s been a lot of talk recently about gender equality. Everyone has a responsibility to improve on it in all industries. There’s a massive lack of female promoters and women in leadership roles. We need to create an environment where women feel comfortable and valued.
I don’t think the industry can survive without embracing and respecting people from different backgrounds. We can’t ensure our events appeal to a wider audience when the same people are making the decisions all the same. You need to have different people involved to make the event more diverse.
I hope to lead by example in showing that it’s fine to show your feminine side on site. You don’t have to adopt the stereotypical masculine traits to fit in. Women bring something new to the table. I also think if more women were involved in these decision-making processes, we would see more female headliners. We’ve had artists like Charlotte Devaney, DJ Millz, Maddy V and Sweet Female Attitude, and I’d love to see them playing more at major festivals.
Do you think the industry does enough to promote itself to the younger generation?
From my experience on site it’s all word of mouth. When I ask people how they got into it, it’s always through a friend or a friend of a friend. We need to go into colleges and schools and talk about what it’s all about. We need to inspire younger people to get involved in it because so many young people love music, but many are not musical themselves.
Raver Tots is hosting 10 Halloween events this month in cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.