A free livestream festival aimed at supporting those in the live events and music touring industry affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is set for Dec. 16 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
The Live Events Lift Up Festival, also called LEVL Up Fest, will stream live from the Ryman beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT that evening, featuring 25 artists and entertainers spanning the genres of country, pop, Americana, and more. A lineup will be announced in coming weeks. In addition to music, the virtual attendees will hear stories from artists and crew members about the efforts it takes behind the scenes to produce live events and entertainment.
When quarantine and social distancing mandates forced live events to shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the live events industry slammed to a halt. More than 12 million jobs were lost and more than 70% of live events workers lost 100% of their income.
“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.”
Co-Founder of LEVL UP Fest Eileen Valois said via a statement, “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 festival will benefit MusiCares, The Roadie Clinic, and the Country Music Association Foundation (with funds donated to the CMA Foundation to be used for the CMA EDU program). The LEVL Up Fest team will also launch a merchandise store this week; East Wind Screenprint has partnered with the organization to design merch and will donate 50% of the net proceeds back to the festival.
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.
Go West Creative CEO and Chief Creative David Fischette will executive produce the event, while Keith Levenson (conductor/composer for The Who since 1994 and co-founder of Fustercluck Music) will serve as music supervisor.
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