Backstage with Kathryn Davis

Backstage With Kathryn Davis
Backstage with Kathryn Davis

Joining us this week on YTL Arena’s Backstage With Q&A is Destination Bristol’s Head of Tourism, Kathryn Davis. Kathryn has an impressive 20 years’ experience working in destination management and marketing, starting as a Marketing Executive for the Bristol Tourism and Conference Bureau in 2000. Since then, Kathryn has played a major role in putting Bristol on the map… even during a global pandemic!

Read Kathryn’s advice on putting on an engaging virtual event, and more, in this week’s Backstage With Q&A.

1. Firstly, we’d like to send a huge congratulations on making it onto the list of the best virtual campaigns across the world. How have you and the team found ensuring our city is still getting attraction even in the difficult times we are in?

The team have been working exceptionally hard to ensure that all the innovative ways that individual businesses have been developing to showcase themselves, and how they have been working together, have the opportunity to be included in a wider destination communication.

This serves two purposes. On a national / global scale is essential as it keeps us visible, using content to retain engagement. This is why the Rough Guide nomination was so important. Secondly, it creates interesting, relevant and useful content for those living in the area that need it now. 

2. What makes a virtual event / campaign a successful one?

It is about having the networks in place to enable receipt of content, and then redistribution through the destination comms. We have been looking at what content has been produced using best examples from around the world, thinking about how it could be applied to us but ensuring we retain the ‘Bristolness’ so that our content remains authentic and relevant. This does not deviate from our strategy in the ‘real world’. We are fortunate that the business community has been innovative and willing to engage and get involved. We have continued to focus on our destination strengths but delivering inspiration in a different way. 

3. What has made you particularly proud about Bristol during this time?

Bristol has come together in a way that makes you proud. The hospitality community shut down almost overnight but quickly came together to support those in need. I think it is understanding the wider role in supporting the community that is very Bristol.

4. What’re your favourite things about Bristol and what makes it unique to other cities?

I love the sense of independence and the independent, innovative spirit that Bristol has, and I also love local food and drink. I love that I can walk for 15mins and have access on Gloucester Rd to a local bakery, butcher and veg shop, along with other places such as Preserve where I can buy pasta, rice, flour and other ingredients loose meaning I just buy what I need. I can also walk or cycle down to St Werburghs to Better Foods that sells loads of great local suppliers. We are so lucky to have access to so much great food and drink, and with deliveries from brewers, wine shops and gin distilleries it gets a little too easy sometimes.

It is a cliché but it is the people that make Bristol special as well. It is such a supportive community and one where people genuinely will help each other for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. Many of my friends aren’t from the area originally (unlike me) so I am always interested in how they came to call Bristol home. After an absence of a few years, I came back to Bristol for 6 months – 25 years ago.

And more clichés – I like seeing balloons in the sky in the summer, I like summer Friday nights at the County Ground watching 20 over cricket, I like walking round the harbour and bumping into people for a chat, I like listening to live music drift out of venues in the evenings. All the things that we can’t do at the moment, but can’t wait to do again.

5. What are some of the most exciting events/ businesses on your radar at the moment?

Sadly, many of my favourites have been postponed this year, so I will be even more excited to look forward to Spike Island Open and Upfest next year – two of my favourite annual events. I also love East Bristol Brewery Trail and hope that we get to have an August edition.

I am looking forward to Aah Toots opening up at the bottom of Christmas steps.

Upfest Festival,

6. Bristol is well known for its incredible independent grassroot music venues - a place for everyone and catering to all music tastes! Sadly, many of these venues have expressed concerns about the future of their venues amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Is there a way the people of Bristol can help support these venues?

Sign up to newsletters, buy tickets for future events, donate where you can and make sure that you use them (when you can)

7. How do you think having an arena will benefit the city and add to Bristol’s well-known music scene?

There are definitely artists that can’t currently play in Bristol as there are not venues available of the size and scale for them to do so. I would love to pick up a weekend paper and see Bristol featured in the listings of the mega-star gigs. This really helps get the city on the map both in the UK and internationally.

8. Can you name your first gig, last gig, favourite gig?

First Gig, A-Ha at the Colston Hall. Last gig was (I think) Downs Festival so as Lauryn Hill closed the event, it would be Lauryn Hill. It was a busy winter with work so I didn’t get to much else, unless you can count Opera, in which case it would’ve been The Marriage of Figaro at The Bristol Hippodrome.

My favourite gig – I probably have 2 from last year. Idles at Downs Festival and The Specials at Harbourside, but if I had to pick the best one ever, possibly PJ Harvey at Colston Hall in the mid/late 90s. I also love stand up, so my favourite comedy gigs would be Bill Bailey (who I’ve seen quite a few times) and Eddie Izzard.

9. Can you name a song that can instantly boost your mood? (and why)

Song 2, Blur – it’s a special one for me and some of my oldest friends. You knew you were in for a good night when that came on… 

10. And finally… can you share an all-time favourite song/ a song that means a lot to you so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?

Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun. My favourite song ever.