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Backstage Stars – Danielle Kennedy-Clark

Backstage Stars
7 November 2017
After beginning a career in the health and fitness industry, Danielle Kennedy-Clark moved into live events – a love of which was first sparked attending a Michael Jackson concert. She is now operations director at The O2, which is currently hosting shows by acts such as Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Depeche Mode and Metallica.

 

What are your first live music memories?

“I was a massive Michael Jackson fan and I went to see him in concert in Cardiff stadium when I was in my early teens. I can remember the buzz of the show and loving every minute of it. From there on in I always had a really keen interest in live music events.

“I think once an artiste gets to arena level, all the shows are of a really high standard. The shows that make the biggest impact on an audience are the legends – The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac.  Those guys are serious professionals and you can see that in their performance. The audience love them and the atmosphere in the arena is always electric.”

 

How did you get into the music industry?

“My career began in the health and fitness industry after leaving university with a sports degree. Over the next few years I worked in large health clubs, in various member services roles. One of the health clubs I worked for had a couple of good event spaces and that’s when my passion for events started to evolve. I would host all sorts of events at the club, live sports shows, conferences, parties, wedding receptions, seminars and courses.

“I really enjoyed the events element of the job so decided to move on to a venue that offered more options. I took a role as the events manager at The David Beckham Academy back in 2007. The Academy predominately provided football coaching to children, however we also held lots of corporate football events, training and awards. The building had two full sized indoor football pitches which allowed us the flexibility to hold different events. We filmed sports TV shows, sports dinners and football tournaments, as well as being the official warm up venue for the World Gymnastics Championships in 2009.”

 

What does your role involve?

“I started at The O2 as a venue manager, back in 2010. At that point we were just a small team of five. Over the past eight years the team has grown, along with the popularity of the building.

“I look after all operations teams based at the venue. They include venue management, production, security operations and transport and are responsible for running all the events under the tent. Our role is very much a 24-hour operation and our diary is always jam-packed with events of all varieties.

“I love working in this industry, it’s not for the fainted hearted and it can be really full on, however I do thrive on the versatility of the industry. One day is never the same as the last. Within a week we can go from Neil Diamond, to J Cole, to The BRIT Awards, to the most popular indoor tennis tournament in the world. I think I will always be involved in the live events industry, at least in some capacity. I do often wonder what else I would do that would be so rewarding. I haven’t come up with anything yet.”

 

What have been your greatest highs and lows?

“My disillusionment was that working in the events industry is glamorous. It’s far from it at the best of times and the working hours in events can be challenging. I’m really not keen on a 3am wake-up call in the middle of winter.

“There have been so many highs here at The O2 but I think my favourite event was Rammstein [I had no idea who they were before I worked the show and metal really isn’t my thing]. The crowd was great, the show was theatrical and crazy, the pyrotechnics left my heart in my mouth for most of the show.”

 

Do you have any observations about the way the industry is moving?

“Over the past eight years I have really seen the industry grow. Events get bigger and better and the shows become more and more spectacular each year. The audience don’t see a concert as a treat anymore, they see it as part of life, a necessity.”

 

How do you unwind?

“I have been married to Adam, a PE teacher, for four years. I love to travel, especially to hotter climates and look forward to a couple of holidays each year as it’s the only time I have to enjoy a good book and unwind. It’s really precious time for me with my husband.

“I am also a massive animal lover and would really like to help save vulnerable animals, have a sanctuary, foster dogs, something along those lines.”

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