Q’s With Kim Bedier On IAVM: ‘It’s Been Such An Asset To My Entire Career’

Kim Bedier
– Kim Bedier

With the International Association of Venue Managers’ VenuesConnect conference quickly approaching, Pollstar checked in with Kim Bedier to talk about the organization, its annual event and the session she’s appearing on, “The Gender Gap Continued.” Bedier is the director of Tacoma Venues & Events, responsible for Washington state’s Tacoma Dome, the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, Cheney Stadium, Pantages Theatre, Rialto Theatre and Theater on the Square. She has served as chair for many organizations over the years, including the IAVM Board of Directors in 2015 and the Board of Regents of Venue Management School, where she instructs. Her many accolades include being named one of the five inaugural “Women of Influence” in the venue management industry by Venues Today in 2007. The 93rd annual VenuesConnect takes place at the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre July 22-25.

How long have you been a member with IAVM?
My whole life (laughs). Since 1995.
Can you talk about the benefits of joining IAVM?
When I joined way back then I was working in a very small venue in northern Canada. I didn’t have anyone I could call up and say, “How do you do this particular activity?” and I really didn’t know anything about the venue management industry. Someone told me about venue management school, so that was my first introduction. And to go there I had to join IAVM.
It became such a source of information, networking and support, knowing there were people out there that were going through the same things I was or that had already gone through and had the answers. It’s just been such an asset to my entire career and I have lifelong friends that I’ve met.
What was your biggest accomplishment during your tenure as chair of IAVM’s board of directors?
The thing that I’m most proud of is IAVM created what we call our legacy project, which in most years at VenueConnect people come in early and do a community service project. We started in New Orleans and worked with people in the Ninth Ward, who were still, at that point, recovering from Katrina. When we were in Baltimore we went to an inner-city school and we made lunches. A lot of us do so much in our communities but we’re a force to be reckoned with when we get together.
And then I’ve always worked to advance women in our profession and so I really focused on some elements of how we could support women in the profession – women leadership sessions, and that sort of leads to my participation in this year’s conference.
Can you share a bit about that session – “The Gender Gap Continued”?
Professor Jill Schinberg, who’s at the University of Kentucky, put together a session last year called “The Gender Gap.” The idea was to talk about some of the issues that women were facing in our profession and it turned into an amazing interactive session, where people wanted to tell their stories and wanted to understand how everyone could support each other. So this is the Gender Gap revisited. We’ll have an opportunity to continue those conversations.
Last year and this year we also included a gentleman on the panel. This year we have Troy Thorn, the executive director at the Chesapeake Conference Center, because it’s not just about women. It’s about including everyone in the workplace and making sure everyone has an opportunity to become CEO if they want to.

Since the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements launched, have you seen changes in the workplace?
I don’t know so much that I’ve seen changes in the workplace. What I have seen is a change in the conversation. Nobody is afraid to talk about it anymore, whereas before some of these things, sadly, were accepted or brushed under the rug because nobody really knew how to deal with it.  
I have a ton of thanks and respect for the women that came out through the #MeToo movement and told their stories. I think there’s strength about being able to talk about what’s happening, so we can get to solutions.
What do you hope to see in the coming years in the concert industry as far as managing gender differences in the workplace and promoting equality?
In my mind it goes back to one word, which is inclusion. My vision is that everyone is hired for their own merit. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. If you work hard and you do a good job, then you rise to the level of your ambition and where you want to be in an organization. I think those days are coming.
Anything you’d like to share with readers about why someone should attend the IAVM conference?
Although the content is great these days, they have a ton of educational sessions, it’s more about who you see in the hallways, who you’re able to talk to face-to-face when you’re there. That face-to-face communication is so critical for our industry. [It’s] similar to the Pollstar Live! conference where most of the work gets done in the hallways or at the bar. 

Are there any sessions you’re especially looking forward to attending or any keynote speakers you recommend?
Oh, gosh. Well, mine. (laughs) I think the infamous Dan Steinberg is going to show up and guide his panel this year. I just enjoy his approach. I think it’s pretty refreshing. He doesn’t let anybody off the hook and I will definitely attend his session. He’s got some great Canadians on there, [APA’s] Ralph James, [Live Nation’s] Riley O’Connor, truly icons in the industry.
There is a Women in Leadership session, as well this year. The speaker is Lisa Borders with the WNBA so I’m looking forward to that because she’s risen to such a high level.
There is such a range of topics, like one about “Landing the Best Shows For Your Venue,” and then there’s a keynote by creative change agent and poet Dasha Kelly.
And the reason for that is they’ve brought all venue types together. They have some general overriding sessions, like how to overcome chronic issues and conflicting values. Or increasing your brain’s performance for greater leadership success.
Anything else you’d like to share about IAVM?
IAVM has this really great diversity and inclusion initiative called #WeBelong, which, to me, just takes the #MeToo and Time’s Up [movements] almost to the next level because it’s solution-oriented. I actually teach the subject at our venue management school every year. Every opportunity to continue the conversation to make our profession stronger, more balanced and inclusive is a great conversation to have.