In the summer of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, 3T (Tour Tech Training) – a live music training initiative was launched, designed to provide a broad set of technical skills to Black women who wanted to break into the industry.
It is well-known that Black women are not just underrepresented in touring roles, they are almost entirely missing from the sector. The 3T (Tour Tech Training) course was founded by well-known singer-songwriters Nao and Mura Masa to correct this imbalance. They also wanted to provide visibility and confidence for Black women; to ensure that women aspiring to these roles see themselves in the workforce.
The initiative had three key principles:
- It had to be free to participants (it was funded by Native Management, Sony Music UK and supported by donations from several other private individuals and companies within the industry)
- It was to take place over 12 weekends (24 days in total)
- It had to cover the fundamentals of touring to be useful to attendees (such as loading/ unloading trucks, cable making, changing strings on guitars, building LED walls, tuning RF kit, audio patching, reskinning drums, looming etc.)
The programme attracted almost 600 entries in three days and ten individuals subsequently were chosen to participate in the sessions. Successful applicants were selected on their personality and transferable skills.
A number of organisations in the industry were approached to help support the initiative in terms of time or donations of equipment. VDC was one of these. It provided free audio, video and data cables to enable the course attendees to learn how to solder and make cables, a vital skill on the UK touring scene.
3T Co-Founder, AJ Sutherland said: “We are very proud of the difference that this initiative will make to under-represented groups in the industry. We wanted to equip course participants with all the practical, technical skills plus the softer skills like networking and how to write an impactful CV. With such a well-rounded perspective, individuals are extremely valuable as all round tour techs. It goes without saying that we’re very grateful to everyone who donated time, money or equipment to help us run this programme. It’s great that VDC – as an industry standard supplier – stepped up. Its generosity meant we could give students the opportunity to work with real, high quality equipment, reassuring them that they belong in the touring environment.”
VDC Export Manager, Herpreet Kaur commented: “When AJ approached us, we had no hesitation in sending him what he needed. Many organisations in the industry are now rethinking their teams and who they should employ and this initiative is opening up doors for more diversity in the sector. With so many applicants for just ten places show that there is real interest – and need – for programmes like this. We look forward to seeing where this goes and we’ll be on hand to help if necessary.”
Many of the course participants now have the necessary skills, contacts and confidence to become successful freelancers a number of different tour roles. 3T is looking at registering as a charity over the coming months and plans are currently afoot to rerun the programme in the UK. Sutherland has also been approached to run similar courses in Asia and the US.