3T strives to improve diversity in the live events sphere

TPi checks in with the 3T (Tour Tech Training) Course Leaders to get an update on the charity programme’s latest free, practical training course – which helps underrepresented gender and ethnic groups gain the skills to begin careers in the live events sector.

The brainchild of several artists along with numerous notable names within the live events space, 3T was created as a response to the lack of diversity within the live events sector. The result was a free, practical training course for people from underrepresented gender and ethnic groups, equipping them with the skills and connections to begin careers as touring technicians. 

With the success of the first year, the 3T team was keen to do it all again with a fresh intake of students and even several new course leaders to share their wealth of knowledge. Like the last edition of 3T, most of the students found out about the charity through artists posting on Instagram, along with the word being spread by other support of the incentive from the wider music industry. This year the criteria for eligibility was opened to a wider range of underrepresented groups. 

This year’s course had some structural differences, such as running weekdays for a month rather than weekends for three months. All 10 graduates have been able to go straight into work and many even commenced work before the course finished. The course leaders also made some tweaks to the original syllabus, acknowledging a range of full-time industry roles and promoter repping as well as freelance touring.

The technical skills taught to the 3T students include cable making, building LED walls, tuning RF kit, operating follow spots, DMX addressing, audio patching, reskinning drums, looming, loading, and much more. The goal is to make all the graduates extremely valuable all-round tour techs on shows of any scale – something that is becoming even more important as 2022 has seen the busiest ever year for the industry, with many personnel leaving the industry. 

Due to the busy time of year, it was hard for the 3T team to secure a venue for its Big Weekend event, which rounds off the syllabus. The Big Weekend was a cross between a show and a production rehearsal – essentially, a show without the audience. Thankfully, the team struck gold when Silverbox Studio offered its facility for 3T to use. You can read more about the new company on page 102. 

During the Big Weekend, the students unloaded trucks, flew the PA, rigged the lights, built a video wall, assembled backline, and sound checked both the headliner and support act, who performed 20-minute sets with a changeover in between. The crew then broke up the show and loaded-out. 

A newcomer to the 3T organisation was Tour Manager Felicity Hall, who was brought on board in the final week of the course prior to the Big Weekend. “It was amazing to watch the students putting into practice the skills they’d been learning in the weeks leading to the big weekend,” began Hall. “But more than that was the sense of togetherness. They all went above and beyond to help each other and work together as a team.” 

She went on to give her personal highlight from the production day. “For me, it was listening to all the participants during load-out. So often, you’ve got a load of grumpy roadies who’re complaining about the work, whereas at the Big Weekend, the conversations were so wholesome and such a reflection on the atmosphere the course had created – supportive, caring and so much more interesting than what we’re used to.” 

Despite the latest round of the 3T course only just coming to a close, some of the participants from this year have already been busy working in the real world. “One of the students has been doing some work with Ronnie Scott’s, and I’ve hired another one as a cover TM for a show I can’t do,” reported Hall. “I’ve had quite a few of the students shadow me at other shows too, and everybody’s always been hugely impressed with them. Last year’s students have all been working in music on some incredible tours and shows in the previous 12 months – something that speaks highly to the quality of the students and the entire project.”

To close, Hall highlighted the importance of incentives like 3T, now more than ever. “The post-pandemic touring years have so far shown what a huge gap there is between the pre-COVID crew and the crew of today, with so many having retired or turned to other jobs. It’s becoming almost impossible to find good crew. 3T can address that while also providing an incredible opportunity to people who otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have had the chance. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Now the world’s opening up, it’s going to be easier to roll it out into more cities and countries.”

Stay tuned for the next issue of TPi where we’ll be catching up with some of the graduates to hear what they’ve been working on since 3T.

This article originally appeared in issue #270 of TPi, which you can read here.