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A Chat With: Tony from Come Play With Me

Today we chatted with the wonderful Tony from Come Play With Me, a charity based in Leeds that helps local artists, usually from the LGBTQ+ community with opportunities to develop their creativity. They also run Women and Marginalised Genders Events & last year hosted LGBTQ The Music events with guests such as Amy Lamé, John Grant & Big Joanie.

“Earlier this year we planned our 4th consecutive annual all day event with a series of workshops, panels and a keynote speaker ending with a gig with IVW – all aimed at women and people of marginalised genders seeking careers in music. For obvious reasons, we couldn’t do the usual physical event so decided to take the event online – but rather than a 6+hr event (which would be a lot for anyone to sit through) we broke it out to provide 3+ consecutive evenings of free information/entertainment! 

Our first panel was aimed at Early Careers professionals, chaired by Esta Yemaya (Female Magik), then we delivered a panel aimed at offering advice around managing mental health in challenging times, chaired by Dr Melanie Grundy (Help Musicians) and a panel offering good advice and suggestions around what other careers exist right now in music beyond being a musician, chaired by Becky Ayres, CEO of Sound City Liverpool.

We’re always proud at our events to have an opportunity for participants and panellists to network after – we’ve heard of good collaborations and projects being born this way – but have struggled to replicate that in our Zoom/Microsoft Teams world, so we added a 4th date where we’re adding an online networking event using a new app called ‘Wonder’ which replicates that whole dropping into a new room and mingling around different tables vibe!

Finally, we held a brand new and interesting ‘part performance / part interview with some bonus activities’ event to close the week on Saturday 23rd January in partnership with those lovely people at Independent Venue Week and a local promoter called Grrls Do That Too! We featured two local artists called In The Morning Lights & Sunflower Thieves, you can watch the event on YouTube.

Community is everything to us and the reason we do the things we do. We work closely with a lot of good people, especially in/around Leeds – musicians, venues, labels, managers, stores, journalists and so many more. But we really value working closely with the communities we support – in this case women and people of marginalised genders. The programme is all designed using feedback from the Music:Leeds GREAAT (Gender Rebalance Equality Action & Advisory Team) which is managed largely by Eva Davies and Emily Marlow of CPWM.

This year we’re hopefully looking forward to some gigs, it would be nice if that didn’t involve staring at screens! We released a couple of new singles arriving in the spring and a new compilation album Side By Side landed in June, with another in the pipeline. So we’ll be doing lots of shouting about all the talented folks doing great stuff in Yorkshire! But more than anything, a return to a world where musicians and other music freelancers can genuinely make money from their art would be nice!”

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