Q& A with Stephanie Bevan-Moss - Deputy Head of Corporate Events at Somerset House

Written by Paul Nov 29 2018

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Q& A with Stephanie Bevan-Moss - Deputy Head of Corporate Events at Somerset House

Tell us about your role at the venue and how long you’ve been there

I currently work as Deputy Head of Corporate Events at this iconic venue and leading centre for contemporary culture in central London and have been here for five years. I have just finished a one-year maternity cover role as Co-Head of Corporate Events which was an amazing opportunity. When I joined Somerset House, I took on the role of Event Coordinator and I love that staff are given the chance to grow and develop within the company. No day is ever the same here and the huge variety of spaces and events make my job both exciting and rewarding. We're a great team and three people report to me, the Business Development Manager, Event Executive and Event Administrator. The incredible selection of spaces and the close-knit team ensure our events are always a great success.

What’s the best thing about working at your venue?

That's easy! Not only is Somerset House simply a beautiful building to work within, but it is also a creative hub with all sorts of inspiring companies and artists producing lots of awe-inspiring work as we speak. This really helps us to unleash our own creativity. As well as being renowned as a contemporary arts centre, Somerset House is steeped in history and our event spaces are full of character because of this. Just about every space has a story. With our large variety of spaces, we attract a very diverse clientele who put on many different kinds of events, which makes my job very exciting.

How did you get into the industry?

I'm originally from Brazil where I studied Hospitality Management and began my career in hotels over there. It was only when I landed my first role in an event agency that I realised that this was the industry for me and here I have stayed.

When I was working in Brazil, I was given the opportunity to work on some very exciting events including the Sao Paulo Fashion Week, music festivals, product activations and VIP parties all over the country.

I love how fast-paced this industry is and that I am given the opportunity to be involved in such remarkable high-profile events.

What’s the history of the venue?

Somerset House has a long and illustrious history dating back to 1547 when Edward Seymour, Lord Protector and the Duke of Somerset, started building a palace for himself on the banks of the River Thames. Even Queen Elizabeth I lived in the original building when she was still a Princess. The new building was first created in the 18th Century by architect William Chambers and went on to house many high profile residents and organisations including the Navy Board. It is also famous for having been the Register Office for births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales and later known as the home of the Inland Revenue. Somerset House Trust was established in July 1997 to conserve and develop Somerset House as an arts centre. After a campaign to open Somerset House to the public, it once again became a home for arts and culture in 2000. It been used as an events venue for many years now and first hosted London Fashion Week in 2009.

Somerset House is a charity which does not receive regular government support and the revenue generated by our Corporate Events department is vital to keep the building running.

Interesting fact about your venue/tell us something we wouldn’t know

Our Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court has been home to the famous pop-up ice rink since 2000 and is now a firm feature on the calendar for London's festive season. We were the first venue in the capital to open an outdoor ice rink and it is hugely popular with visitors and event organisers alike. This year, we won Best Christmas Venue at the London Venue awards and the ice rink with its soaring Christmas trees and Fortnum & Mason Shopping Arcade all contribute to the spectacular festive atmosphere which has been likened to the Rockefeller Center in New York.

We have also featured in a number of blockbuster films including James Bond; Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies; Sleepy Hollow, Love Actually, X Men First Class, Suffragette, London Has Fallen and Darkest Hour.

What’s the coolest/best/most interesting event you’ve worked on, and how did the venue cope with it?

That's a hard one to answer as we have had so many. In November 2016, Somerset House was used as the venue to launch the San Miguel Rich List campaign and accompanying Guardian supplement. The San Miguel Rich List celebrates 19 inspirational individuals from around the world who have chosen to live life to the full and discover life’s most enriching experiences. Organised by marketing agency, Fuse, the key audience of journalists, bloggers, influencers and internal stakeholders allowed San Miguel to celebrate the launch of the supplement as well as surprise and delight attendees with an event that got people talking and encapsulated the spirit of the project. To convey the ideals of the Rich List launch, a number of immersive activities were organised including a virtual reality experience inspired by marine life photographer, Goran Ehlme, 4D cave inspired by deep cave explorer, Robbie Shone and a gardeners' workshop. Somerset House was used as a blank canvas for each of the activities and due to the immersive experiences, everything had to be timed to the minute and communication was key. The event was a huge success with some fantastic feedback from the client and guests alike.

Another truly memorable experience was the filming of London Has Fallen in 2016. A helicopter needed to land in the courtyard and we even got to work with Gerard Butler. Our claim to fame is that we made it into the trailer!

What events work best at the venue?

All our venues are blank canvas but they are also so different with their own unique character. This gives event organisers a huge variety of spaces to choose from with the freedom to create bespoke designs for each event. For this reason, our spaces are perfect for press days, experiential events and product launches where the venue is completely transformed.

Why do clients choose to host events at your venue?

I think it's the iconic and historic nature of our venue that first attracts people to the venue and then when they delve more deeply, they see just how versatile and different our events spaces are and they are smitten. They are always surprised at how flexible our spaces are, despite being in a Grade I Listed building. It's a place that's unique within London and very well thought of by everyone, particularly for its spectacular views of the River Thames and the London skyline - it really epitomises our wonderful capital city. The outdoor areas including the fountains in the courtyard in the summer and the pop-up ice rink in the winter, bring it all to life, not to mention the vibe of a centre for contemporary culture. When you add our excellent level of services, for which we've won awards, the event organiser is sold.

What are your venues top 3 USPs that separate you from other venues?

Our site has a unique history and breath-taking architecture, which when combined with the contemporary cultural programme and creative hub that is Somerset House, make for a unique venue. Our London views can't be beaten either and yet we're so easy to reach. Finally, the versatility and variety of spaces - 12 very different ones to choose from - makes us second to none.

What changes or exciting plans are coming up in 2018 for the venue?

There has been a lot of buzz around our exciting new exhibition, ‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Celebrating Snoopy and the Enduring Power of Peanuts’ which opened in October 2018 and runs until March 2019. This landmark exhibition will be available for private views, breakfast events and receptions. Also, one of our major exhibition spaces, the elegant and impressive East Wing with its great variety of spaces, is now available for private hire until April 2019.

In general, we are looking forward to an exciting future as an events venue that's firmly on the London map and all sorts of incredible events taking place in 2019 and beyond.