Music In Devon Initiative


Team Members

Marie Belsten

Marie has a strong passion for music and it has always been a big part of her life, both personally and professionally. She has written and performed – both as a vocalist and as a percussionist – with many bands over the years; some of her most recent bands include The Swamp Gods, Kiss This! and joHaRi.

Marie started off in the music industry as a promoter in the East End of London during the 1980s, working for Waltham Forest Council, where she booked bands such as The Fall, Zodiac Mindwarp and The Icicle Works, amongst many others, at Walthamstow Town Hall. At that time, she also co-produced a critically acclaimed fanzine – Jump Away – with Simon Williams, an NME journalist and founder of the Fierce Panda indie record label. The ‘zine earned plaudits from national music press (Record Mirror, NME, Melody Maker, Sounds), and BBC radio presenters alike (John Peel & Janice Long), and included interviews with bands such as The Housemartins, The Icicle Works, Primal Scream, and Half Man Half Biscuit, as well as rising funny man of the time, Harry Enfield.

Marie later worked in music education in Devon for a number of years, both as a freelance music workshop leader – leading singing sessions and songwriting workshops for young people at Sound Gallery CIC and Playback Youth Theatre – and as an Administrator for Devon Music Service (now Devon Music Education Hub), where she helped to organise the annual Devon Schools Mix festival at Westpoint for around 5,000 Devon schoolchildren.

Over the past 12 years, Marie has co-founded several arts and music organisations and social enterprises, including CRAMP (Crediton Rural Arts & Music Project), Sound Gallery CIC (Exeter recording studio, rehearsal rooms and music development centre), Mingle Music (live music booking agency), EMIG (Exeter Music Industry Group), and The Musicians’ VA.

She has also managed a number of music-making projects for young people, including Music Machine (facilitated by the Guildhall School of Music’s Connect team); Band Lab; and the ERA (Exeter Rising Artists) Sing It! programme, as well as co-directing original musical theatre productions with young people for Playback Youth Theatre at Exeter Phoenix.

Other experience in the music industry includes: managing a small number of artists (Maz Totterdell, Carnivala! and Nanette McClelland); promoting dozens of live music events in Exeter and Crediton; working in the role of Programming Co-ordinator for Exeter Respect Festival; and organising Lift Off! – an event which took place at Exeter Phoenix in 2014, and which included seminars with panellists of music industry professionals, as well as several live music performances and workshops.

Marie believes that music has the power to transform lives, that it can help people to overcome problems and challenges, and that it can also heal body, mind and spirit. This is why she has dedicated so much of her time and energy to developing opportunities for people to create, perform, share and enjoy music together.

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