Steve Cheney, stage manager

 7 August 2012

Steve Cheney has managed the main stages at Glastonbury, Latitude, Big Chill and Leeds festivals.

"I've travelled a lot. I've worked with some great people, many of whom have become good friends."


Oundle, near Peterborough.

What job do you do?

I'm a Music Industry Liason Officer for the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural. I also remain actively involved in live music as a tour manager and production manager.

I've also done stage management for the main stages at the Glastonbury, Latitude, Big Chill and Leeds Festivals.

What previous jobs have you done?

I started working for the National Skills Academy relatively recently, but I've been involved in live music since 1980.

I arrived at the University of Northumbria in 1977. It became an attractive proposition to join the entertainments committee and move on from there. I was the social secretary there, and I also worked on the stage crew at Newcastle City Hall from 1979 to 1980.

As a tour and production manager, and also as a tour accountant, I spent 30 years touring. This enabled me to travel the world  – mostly at someone else's expense.

I spent many years working as the production contact for various different promotion companies such as Asgard, 3A Entertainments and Kilimanjaro.

What qualifications do you have?

Apart from the usual number of O and A levels and an unfinished degree, none really. There were no event management or contemporary music courses in my day. 

"Keep knocking on doors. Make the most of any break you get."

The traditional route in, back then, was either through contacts built up as a college entertainments officer, or by working as stage crew in often-visited venues.

What do you do at work?

It completely depends which hat I'm wearing.  I might spend Monday planning production visits for students. The students come in from the National Skills Academy's 20 Founder Colleges to see a normal touring day in action.

By Friday, depending on the time of year, you might find me at a festival such as Glastonbury. I'd be standing on the main stage, no doubt looking at my watch. The main aim is to run to time.

As a production manager on tour, I'd be in the venue overseeing the load in. And as a tour manager, I'd hopefully be sitting in the hotel jacuzzi!

What's the best thing about your job?

There's certainly been variety. I've travelled a lot. I've worked with some great people, many of whom have become good friends.

I've had a huge amount of laughs, strangely enough often in adversity. There's a good deal of gallows humour in live music.

Working as the NSA's Music Industry Liason Officer has been great – perhaps a liitle out of my comfort zone to start with, but I really enjoy it now.

How can I get into live music?

The music business has been good to me, but I have put in the time and effort. Keep knocking on people's doors, and make the most of any lucky break you get.

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