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“We should be working towards inspiring the next generation of female leaders in this industry:” An interview with Noughty 90s Festival director Paris O’Connell

  • By Ryan Moss

  • 08 Mar 2023
  • 8 min read

The nineties. A time of euphoric music and vivid colours. Many events have tried to tap into the era’s nostalgia, but few do it better than Noughty 90s Festival.

Established in 2019, the event had some challenges. Like many festivals, the pandemic proved a tough ask. But they persevered. The result of all their hard work? A weekend of music and fun at Newcastle’s Leazes Park in 2021.

It didn’t stop there. The event has grown in strength, with 2023 marking its third year in Newcastle and adding Brighton, Hitchin and Cardiff to its list of locations.

We were lucky enough to speak to Paris O’Connell, director of Noughty 90s Festival. As Festival Director, her role is to “oversee the planning, organisation and execution of each event.” That includes the whole process, from logistics to budget management.

“A love for content creation and social media” has seen Paris take on a prominent marketing role with the festival. Paris told us that “implementing new strategies and maximising ticket sales” makes “standing on that stage at the end of it all a lot more satisfying.”

We caught up with Paris to discuss her work with the festival and how Skiddle has helped the event. As it’s International Women’s Day, we got Paris’s thoughts on the celebration, her top tips for women getting into the industry and how the industry can create the conditions for women to thrive. Scroll down to read the interview.

Paris in her own words…

“I am a 31 year old Festival Director living and working in Brighton. Born and raised “Military Brat”, I had settled on a childhood dream of becoming a Legal Officer in the RAF, graduating with honours from University in Sheffield with a degree in Law and Psychology – before meeting my now business partner Albie at one of his nightclubs. He asked me one day if I’d ever thought about working in events, and after helping out at one of his first-ever music festivals, told me it could be the making of me. I haven’t looked back since! 

We now work on events across the world, including a number of our own UK based Music Festivals, Noughty 90’s Festival and Land Beyond Festival – both now entering their third year in 2023.”

Paris’s top three tips for women looking to get into the industry

“Be confident. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t be afraid to speak up, take risks and try new things.

Be open to learning. Never lose the desire to learn new skills or better the ones you already have. Stay active and up to date on new trends and new tech! 

Gain as much first-hand experience as you can in the area that interests you. Be it marketing or production, work on developing a specific skill set that aligns with that.”

What makes her work enjoyable?

“I would say the most enjoyable aspect of my job is seeing the results of my team’s hard work. 

We design and execute totally unique experiences for so many different groups of people and no two events are ever the same. It is an incredible feeling to be able to bring people together like that and create such a positive impact. Nothing beats standing on that stage and watching a safe and successful event unfold.”

What are the challenges Paris has faced as a promoter? How has she overcome them?

“There are so many risks and challenges involved with being an event promoter. I can guarantee you at one point or another we’ve been hit with every single one of them.

I think the key to overcoming them comes with being hugely flexible and adaptable to change, don’t be easily disappointed. Things do go wrong which are outside of your control, don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s not your fault a storm put a great big hole in your Big Top.. (Land Beyond 2019). Stay positive, think on your feet, be proactive and be collaborative – work with your team and you can achieve anything.”

Paris on… International Women’s Day

“For me, as a woman in a hugely male-dominated industry. International Women’s Day is an important reminder to celebrate the achievements of women and advocate for the empowerment of women in all aspects of work and of life.”

The women who have inspired her…

“I am honestly inspired by any woman working hard to make significant contributions to their respective fields. Any woman who shows determination, resilience, and dedication to making a positive impact on the world. My best friend Laura has always been a great example of this for me. And of course my mum. Because she’s amazing.”

How can the events industry create conditions for women to thrive?

“I think women do thrive in the events industry. But if a concerted effort was made by all industry organisations to promote diversity and inclusivity, address the issues of pay equity and career advancement and look to increase mentorship and professional development opportunities we could look to create a far more equitable and supportive industry.”

Paris on… The challenges associated with delivering a gender-equal line-up

“I think it is vital as festival organisers that we strive to reflect the true diversity of the music industry in our programming. As with anything in the planning of an event challenges are met, from budget constraints to availability issues to exclusivity clauses in contracts – there’s always going to be something. But female representation at music festivals is on the rise, and it is certainly something we have always strived to achieve and will continue to do so within our own line-ups.”

What would Paris like to see more of in the industry?

“Recognition. There are women in this industry who deserve to be recognised and rewarded for their contributions and efforts. We’ve got a long way to go, but have come so far and that deserves to be celebrated. We should be working towards inspiring the next generation of female leaders in this industry.”

How has Skiddle helped Paris carry out her work?

“The Account Manager support from Skiddle is second to none. They are always on hand for support and advice, always looking for additional ways to drive our events and maximise attendance. Their consistency, care and commitment to any event they take on are what puts them far above and beyond any other ticketing service I’ve worked with.”

Got a question you need an answer to? Give us a call on 03333010301 or ask us a question over on the Skiddle Promoter Twitter account by clicking or tapping on the button below. Alternatively, you can also find a list of our most frequently asked questions over at https://help.promotioncentre.co.uk/

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