Acts pull out of This Is Tomorrow festival: Sexual harassment allegations against promoter

Several artists that were set to play the festival refused, due to allegations of sexual harassment against the founder of the festival’s promotion company.

Acts pull out of This Is Tomorrow festival: Sexual harassment allegations against promoter

This Is Tomorrow festival was held in Newcastle over the weekend, but some artists pulled out of the festival due to allegations made against the founder and director of SSD Concerts, Steve Davis. The company was forced to hand over the promotion of the festival to Kilimanjaro, however several musicians still pulled out, after SSD remained involved in the event as a subcontractor.

A number of women in April made allegations stating that managing director Davis had been touching them inappropriately and making sexualised comments. Davis denies these allegations “vehemently”.

Artists such as Sam Fender, who headlined on the Sunday, Idles and Lanterns on the Lake all severed their ties with the promoter. SSD has announced that Davis has since resigned as managing director, however entries at Companies House say that he is still listed as an active director of SSD and their affiliates, including This is Tomorrow Ltd.

Sam Fender did still play the festival after Kilimanjaro took over it’s promotion, and he spoke on the issues after his performance, mentioning that the festival had been “overshadowed by serious allegations that still need addressing.” He said that Kilimanjaro “helped the show go ahead”, and that they “did everything in our power to ensure that thousands of fans didn’t miss out.”

Guitarist from Sunderland based band Picnic, said that his group decided against playing the festival, because they were told that SSD was still involved. He stated: "We were clear that we would be happy to play as long as SSD weren't involved so I emailed a former employee of SSD, who now works for Kilimanjaro, to get clarity on who was organising the festival. The reply was that SSD were still involved.”

Midnight Chic were another band who refused to attend, they mentioned: “We have received numerous messages regarding SSD Concerts who to our understanding are still very much involved with the festival. The allegations are very distressing to us."

Nadine Shah did play the festival, assuming that there was a new promoter. She said: “I stand in solidarity and I believe each and every woman who has made accusations. I choose to play this festival. We are playing this festival for the fans. I refuse to let there be yet again another female not present on a mainstage." Fontaines D.C. mentioned that the profits that they made from the festival will go towards Women’s Aid Newcastle.

Multiple women have come forward accusing Steve Davis of sexual harassment, with one stating that he would give “lots of women shoulder massages”, “grope and slap our bums”, and make innappropriate comments about “whether I looked attractive.” Another woman stated: “when you were talking to him he'd either look at your chest or comment on what you were wearing". There was also another statement made, saying: “Sometimes you'd be too scared to say something because he holds a big part of the music industry.” 

The lawyers representing Davis and SSD have denied the claims, saying: “SSD has no record of any complaint received from any member of its current or previous members of staff regarding sexual harassment." They added that the allegations were spread by an employee who now works for a rival promoter, and that they are apparently "unsubstantiated and fictitious.”

Header Image Credit: "Sam Fender Supporting Eliza and The Bear" by thematthorne is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Ash Edmonds

Ash Edmonds Kickstart

A graduate of Music Journalism from BIMM Brighton – where he now lives – Ash has been writing about everything creative for the past few years. An avid audiophile, he spends a lot of his time searching streaming platforms, record stores and live shows trying to find his next musical obsession.

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