Event honors 12 million people behind the scenes of the devastated live events industry
Live Events Lift Up Festival, also known as LEVL UP Fest, will stream live from the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Wednesday, December 16th at 8:30 pm ET. This “festival of music and stories of life on and off the road” will feature performances from more than 25 artists and entertainers who have stepped up to honor all those who help them “go live.” Throughout the event, we’ll hear stories from artists and crew about what it means to be part of a “road family” and get a glimpse behind the scenes of what it takes to produce live entertainment and events.
In early March 2020, the live events industry was shut down by mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, an entire workforce whose livelihoods revolve around creating events where people gather, came to a grinding halt. The collapse of the eco-system in the live events industry, from supply chain to front lines, quickly became catastrophic. Live events support more than 12 million jobs; and according to statistics from several sources, including the Department of Labor, 77% of the workers in live events have lost 100% of their income. Event pros are grappling with the loss of their income, the uncertainty of when work might return, whether the government might do enough to stabilize the industry and trying to figure out how they are going to survive.
“We’ve seen depression and anxiety take hold across our community, loss of life due to suicide, families in fear of losing homes and generational small businesses closing their doors,” says Shannon Cook, Co-Founder of LEVL UP Fest. “With large-scale gatherings not expected to return until mid to late 2021, workers across this industry face a very uncertain future.”
That uncertainty and the very nature of the events industry is what led the team behind LEVL UP Fest to create this benefit according to Eileen Valois, Co-Founder of LEVL UP Fest. Valois says, “In times of crisis, the entertainment and events industry have always stepped up with a call to action and so many incredible events like Live Aid and Farm Aid to the more recent Global Citizen events. Behind the scenes of every one of those benefits are the millions of people in our workforce. The average concert requires nearly 500 people to make it possible, from concessions and security to tour bus drivers, technical crew and everyone in between. This is OUR crisis and now we need to take care of our own.” Valois, who is the Senior Vice President of Sports & Fan Entertainment at leading production solutions provider PRG and Cook, who is the Chief Operating Officer for TOURtech, are joined by five additional co-founders, representing a cross-section of the events industry including entertainment and private events.
The LEVL UP Fest team says their top priority is to support the people behind live events. They also feel the lessons learned in 2020 demand that they pay attention to coming back stronger, more resilient and more diverse than they were before. To achieve this, they’ve named three beneficiaries for funds raised by the festival. MusiCares and The Roadie Clinic are two of those organizations whose focus is on critical assistance in times of need and mental health and wellness support. With an eye on the future, LEVL UP Fest named the Country Music Association Foundation (CMAF) as their third beneficiary with funds to be used for the CMA EDU program, supporting LEVL UP’s goal of strengthening and diversifying the industry through outreach, education and job placement. Donations can be made at any time now through December at liveeventsliftup.org. The LEVL UP Fest team will also launch their merch store this week on their website. East Wind Screenprint has partnered with the LEVL UP Fest to design merchandise and will donate 50% of the net proceeds back to the Festival.
LEVL UP Fest has garnered wide-spread support from across the industry. David Fischette, CEO and Chief Creative for Go West Creative has taken on the role of Executive Producer. Keith Levenson, Co-Founder of Fustercluck Music and Conductor/Composer for The Who since 1994, as well as for many other stages in theater, television, and music, is the group’s Music Supervisor. More than 30 professionals were brought together as an “Industry Council” to provide insight throughout the planning process; as well as organizations including Roadies of Color United, Event Safety Alliance, and We Make Events. Show Makers, a 501(C)(3) organization that provides resources for people who make events, is the Philanthropic Partner to LEVL UP Fest and will facilitate all funds raised in association with the event. TOURtech, a company that provides Wi-Fi and public safety technologies for live events and among the many suppliers impacted by the shutdown of live events, has stepped up as the supporting entity of record for LEVL UP Fest. The group says they are grateful to all of the partners who are providing a myriad of production and venue services and support.
LEVL UP Fest will be a free virtual event and featured on the NoCap Shows platform. Combining high-quality video and audio streaming with a text-based ticketing system, NoCap streams concerts from well-known music clubs and theaters and utilizes the venue’s full production capabilities to create a high-fidelity performance experience for fans on their mobile phones and devices. Grammy-nominated producer and musician Cisco Adler – who partnered on NoCap with singer and songwriter Donavon Frankenreiter – is hoping the platform will usher in a new business model for artists, venues and touring crews that have largely been sidelined by the spread of coronavirus. Cisco Adler is among the partners that the LEVL UP Fest team credits with making this event possible.
The group says to stay tuned for additional announcements in the coming weeks about additional places to watch, event sponsors and the all-important artist line up and special performances that we can expect to see.