15-44 entertainment: An Arts Company With a Difference

Emily Priest interviews Kevin O’Donoghue and Daniel Ansell to discuss their new addition to Portsmouth’s music scene, 15-44 entertainment, and their plans for the future. 

Saturday 14th October will see the launch of a new arts and events company in Portsmouth, 15-44 entertainment. Inspired by the year of Southsea Castle’s erection, and run by Daniel Ansell and Kevin O’Donoghue, this new addition to Portsmouth’s creative community aims to give upcoming local acts a chance at promotion, as well as bringing new musicians to the city. 15-44’s launch event at the Wave Maiden on Osborne Road will feature rock and grunge artists The Bleechers, Duke of Wolves and local supports, The Stayawakes and Brother Deep.

So what’s the story behind 15-44 entertainment?

Music teacher and band member in bands Apex Sun and Allegory, Dan Ansell tells me that in his experience, ‘Portsmouth has a lot of music potential but not enough promoters want to help other people’.

When Apex Sun first started out, the band found it difficult to promote themselves, and their experience inspired them to start 15-44 entertainment. ‘We want to give fresh and upcoming bands a chance,’ Kevin says.

Dan continues, ‘There’s a problem across the country. There’s gigs for hard rock and acoustic covers and that’s it.’

15-44 want to accommodate all genres and although the launch event features rock and grunge bands, they are already planning to promote a more psychedelic sound in the near future.

‘We plan to mix new bands with established bands’ Dan explains, ‘and to link music communities. We want other places to recognise Portsmouth talent and to allow bands to network.’

For their launch this weekend, 15-44 are bringing together Duke of Wolves from London and Brother Deep from Portsmouth.By bringing together bands from different areas, Dan and Kevin hope to create networking opportunities between the musicians themselves, spreading the word about each others’ music and perhaps even creating opportunities to perform or tour in other parts of the country.

The events and music scene in Portsmouth can be hard to break through, despite the city’s strong creative community.

‘There’s a pressure to bring in profit,’ says Dan, ‘it can get quite cliquey. It’s an issue across the board and not just in Portsmouth.’

However, there is a growing movement of events organisers who are keen to create a more collaborative, rather than competitive approach.

Kevin is also a band member of Nu Rhetoric, which has enjoyed strong support from non-for-profit community organisation Trash Arts, for example. ‘They gave us a good chance,’ Kevin tells me.

15-44 entertainment aim to build on the example of more community-building rather than purely commercial organisers. Already planning for the future, Kevin and Dan are keen to ‘not just do music’.

In particular, they want to develop better communication between artists and musicians in Portsmouth and to branch out and work with other companies in the city, and beyond.

Kevin has a background in drama and is keen to develop the entertainment aspect of 15-44, creating theatre groups and performance events.

‘We are also really keen to bring a fringe festival to Portsmouth, it would be perfect,’ Kevin and Dan tell me.

‘What we want is a more prevalent arts community in Southsea, so no matter who you are, get involved. We are happy to inspire other people to do the same’.

Get in touch with Kevin and Dan through their Facebook page. 15-44’s first event is at the Wave Maiden the 14th October at 7.30pm and tickets are £5 on the door or £3 in advance.

Image credit 15-44 entertainment.