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Unsung Heroes 2020: Bobby Bähler, Gurtenfestival

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Paul Reed of the AIF, who follows AIF’s Paul Reed.


Frustrated by the Swiss government’s handling of the pandemic restrictions, the Gurtenfestival team’s initial interaction with the authorities was to scold them for their haphazard approach, and bemoan the lack of dialogue regarding the live events sector.

However, director Bobby Bähler soon realised that, rather than bad will, the government actually didn’t understand the festival industry; the complexity of building a temporary festival ‘city,’ and the fact that an event that lasts four days can have a planning phase of several months, involving several hundred people.

“We went out on a limb and told [the government] that if they had a problem we could solve it, no matter what it was”

“We went out on a limb and told them that if they had a problem we could solve it, no matter what it was,” recalls Bähler. “A week later we received a request to build a [coronavirus] test centre that could test up to 1,500 people per day. After two meetings and 12 hours’ conception, we had the solution. And after nine days, the first person was tested.”

Bähler and his colleagues used Gurtenfestival subsidiary, EventOn, to build a software package for the test centre, making sure it could map the entire test process and handle everything automatically from registration to reporting the test result.

“We developed the entire medical process, engaged our event physicians, trained laymen to become test persons, and created the entire public and internal communication,” he tells IQ. “Our team at Gurtenfestival has really done a very extraordinary job, and it is an honour to work with them.”

All too aware of the serious strain coronavirus was having on the health care system, Bähler turned to the experts he knows to run the centre.

“In order to not deprive the health care system of specialist staff, we wrote to all of our employees – around 1,900 people – from the Gurtenfestival. Within 48 hours, we had well over 250 applications from people who wanted to work with us,” says Bähler.

“We were able to relieve the burden on the health system and provide jobs for people in our industry and the catering trade”

“In this way, we were able to relieve the burden on the health system and provide jobs for people from our industry and the catering trade, where they could earn good money with a meaningful job.

“All these people were laymen and were trained and prepared for their work by specialised personnel. Now, we have tested almost 10,000 people since 9 November and to date no significant errors or false results have been found.”

For the construction of the test centre, Bähler hired regional companies to deliver tents, containers, heaters, vehicles, etc. “Maybe we were able to save 2020 for some of the suppliers, with a good order before the end of the year, as many had suffered a 90% drop in sales this year.”

At press time, about 150 people from the live events industry remain employed part-time at the test centre. “But what is much more important is that we were able to show that we are professionals and that we can simply create something big and good out of nothing, with almost no time,” states Bähler.

“We are used to creating playgrounds for artists and demanding guests under the most difficult circumstances… this time we created a ‘testival’ instead of a festival.”

“Most likely we will run the test centre until the end of January 2021 and by then we will have tested 20-30,000 people”

The Gurtenfestival staff expects the centre to become increasingly busy as the holiday season rolls around, with concerned citizens anxious to know they are virus-free before attending family dinners and gatherings.

“Most likely we will run the test centre until the end of January 2021 and by then we will have tested 20-30,000 people,” adds Bähler.

But the work might not end there, as the Swiss government has also asked Bähler if the Gurtenfestival crew can assist in creating vaccination centres when the medicines start to become available.

“We must stand together through this time,” adds Bähler. “The virus will pass, but what remains is the deep desire to be together, to enjoy music, theatre and culture of all kinds in one place… When the post-corona period begins, a new and very promising time for us will begin. Society will appreciate that we exist and will take pleasure in compensating for what the pandemic has so miserably forbidden for so long.”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Evelyn Richardson & Glen Rainsbury

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with LEIF’s Evelyn Richardson and Glen Sainsbury, who follow Paul Reed of the Association of Independent Festivals.


In late May of 2020, when it was clear that the industry was looking at a long and uncertain return to normal operations as Australia came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) was brought to life by TEG chief executive Geoff Jones and Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific.

They enlisted key players from across the music, sport and venues sectors to form an executive committee that was representative of virtually every industry sector and each state and territory across the country – the first time that parties from the full breadth of the entertainment industry had gathered around a table to collectively advocate for the industry.

One of the key deliverables identified in the first meetings was to develop guidance for the industry to which venues and promoters could operate as safely as possible in the new Covid world – a task that Frontier Touring’s Glen Rainsbury was asked to co-ordinate.

“Working with LEIF chairman James Sutherland, we developed a structure that included ten separate working groups led by subject matter experts,” says Rainsbury. “The teams were tasked with developing guidance specific to their areas of expertise and which had to be general enough to be applicable to a broad range of event settings and reflect the regulatory advice of every state and territory, and venue types from clubs to stadiums. It required a very particular approach and discipline.”

“The work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals, and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans”

Rainsbury says the commitment of the 50+ contributors was immense. In a matter of weeks, the heavy lifting was largely complete and it was a case of honing the mountain of submissions into a cohesive work. “As it stands, the work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans on their way back to operating,” he says.

Various states and territories have also drawn upon the guidelines in drafting their solutions, while Rainsbury and Tim McGregor, also from LEIF, have become the sole representatives from the commercial sector on the National Covid-19 Arts and Health and Advisory Committee.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people from across the industry who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly. It was the team’s fine work and effort,” adds Rainsbury.

As the chief executive of Live Performance Australia, Evelyn Richardson’s dedication to the live entertainment sector has never been in question, but while many in the industry were forced to pause their careers, Richardson doubled down on her workload to help LEIF lobby for assistance.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people … who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly”

With LEIF’s support, the LPA led the industry advocacy for federal government to provide emergency funding to the live entertainment industry. The A$250 million (€156m) package provided by government included $75m in grants and a $90m loans scheme targeted at the commercial sector.

LEIF and LPA have further called for the establishment of a business interruption fund to offset risks of cancellation or postponement over the next three years as the industry rebuilds.

Richardson tells IQ, “The most significant achievements of LEIF have been, firstly, the collaboration with our sporting colleagues with information sharing and support during a tumultuous period across the country and globally; and secondly, providing a united voice to governments with respect to advocacy, and raising the profile of the commercial entertainment industry, both in terms of its economic and social contributions to the broader economy.

“As we move forward, we hope to build on this, so our industry is recognised for the significant role we play as employers, providers of content to commercial and government-owned venues, and our critical economic alignment with other industry sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Paul Reed

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Paul Reed of the AIF, who follows Sonorama Ribera’s Javier Ajenjo.

As chief executive of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Paul Reed has been an invaluable resource for the association’s 75 member events as they battle for survival until mass gatherings can once again become a reality.

Reed has been running AIF single-handedly since April, but his drive and determination have seen him take on a multitude of tasks, winning him plaudits from numerous festivals and their organisers.

Reed’s work last year included:

Reed has been running AIF single-handedly since April

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Javier Ajenjo

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Sonorama Ribera’s Javier Ajenjo, who follows Barrie Knight of Big Knight Out/In.


Each year, Sonorama Ribera festival, in the Spanish town of Aranda De Duero, dedicates itself to a special humanitarian cause, with a sum of its profits in the recent past donated to organisations such as UNHCR’s air for refugees and the Acción Contra El Hambre NGO, which battles world hunger.

When the pandemic meant that the 2020 edition of the event could not go ahead, festival co-ordinator Javier Ajenjo, who was born and raised in the town, decided that there must still be something that the event could do to contribute to the greater good.

“Due to Covid-19, the possibility arose of using the venue where the festival is usually held as a field hospital that would help and support the Aranda de Duero hospital,” states Ajenjo. “We got in touch with the health authorities, to put at their disposal all our infrastructure, materials, and the human capacity that we had to start it up.”

In less than a week and in co-ordination with various health workers, Ajenjo and a team of 20 from Sonorama, constructed and started running a 1,500m² hospital, with capacity for 200 beds.

“A few days later, the hospital started receiving the first patients,” reports Ajenjo. “Despite being somewhat transitory, one of the fundamental things that we wanted during its preparation is that the people who went to work on the premises had a rest space, a dining room, and the best conditions to be able to carry out such hard work.”

“With the new vaccines I hope that we will celebrate the festivals with some normality”

Ajenjo reveals that had the 2020 edition of Sonorama Ribera gone ahead, plans were already afoot to thank those who had been risking their own health to help the general population. “We were planning a special edition to dedicate to all the people who had worked on the front line fighting for us,” he says. “The idea was to invite 1,000 health workers to enjoy two days of concerts, with all security measures.”

Although the high infection rates resulted in Sonorama’s cancellation, Ajenjo tells IQ that alternative plans have been made for those key health workers. “We do not give up, so this Christmas they will have their online festival with some of the best artists in our country performing for them. It will be our way of thanking them.”

Looking ahead to 2021, Ajenjo believes that the forthcoming vaccines, allied with everything the Sonorama staff had been learning about in the run up to this year’s festival season, strengthens the probability that the next edition of the festival will go ahead.

“With the new vaccines I hope that we will celebrate the festivals with some normality, and that music and concerts will return to our lives,” he says. “We will take all the necessary measures and be attentive to all the advances to achieve our most important challenge, not only that the people who come to Sonorama Ribera know our land, our roast lamb, and our Ribera del Duero wine, but also enjoy our festival safely and happily!”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Barrie Knight

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Big Knight In’s Barrie Knight, who follows Sandra Beckmann and Tom Koperek.


A specialist in security and artist liaisons, Barrie Knight is a well known figure around the world, with regular clients including Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Peter Gabriel, Ronan Keating and events such as Isle of Wight Festival. His efforts throughout lockdown have ensured that tens of thousands of people in London have not gone hungry, following an accidental encounter in the street.

“I do an occasional club night called Big Knight Out, so when Covid hit we organised an online event called the Big Knight In, which went out to 11,000 people,” he recalls. “The day after the show, I was walking past a local school, St Paul’s, where my friend Roy Edwards works, and he was there, feeding the children of key workers. I was a free-school-dinners kid myself, so after chatting to Roy, I started making sandwiches for the kids and went along to the school to help out.

“When I was there, one of the parents thanked me for feeding them and it turned out some of the kids were taking the food home to share with their families because it was the only regular food they were getting.”

Determined to help as many families as possible, Knight hit on the idea of a JustGiving page to ask Big Knight In attendees to donate money for the food drive. Within an hour of that going live, it had raised £5,000 (€5,565). In total, supporters raised close to £9,000, but Knight wasn’t finished there. “I asked Joe Lock, the manager of our local Morrisons [supermarket], if we could do some kind of deal with them, and straight off, they gave us six pallets of food, free of charge, to help out.”

“The kids were taking the food home to share with their families because it was the only regular food they were getting”

Knight also leveraged his showbiz connections to solicit support from the likes of Ronan Keating, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox.

As media coverage spread, Morrisons pledged to match the donations raised by the Big Knight In and, as a result, the initiative was extended to provide a second school and food banks across London with bulk orders of provisions, as well as women’s refuges, soup kitchens and projects supporting the elderly – all of which needed help as the lockdown continued and people lost their jobs. The scheme ended when the schools reopened, post-lockdown, with Knight admitting he was overwhelmed by the response, which to date has helped more than 38,000 people across London.

“It’s shameful that people in one of the world’s richest cities can be starving; we’re going to do our best to prevent that,” he adds.

Paying tribute to Knight, Peter Gabriel says: “There are two words that bring a smile to my face and to the faces of everyone I work with. The first is ‘Barrie’ and the second ‘Knight’.

“Barrie is as close as I have ever come to meeting a knight in shining armour”

“There are many knights of the realm that have bought their knighthoods with political contributions. Our Barrie is as close as I have ever come to meeting a knight in shining armour – a natural knight always ready to dive in, like a superhero, whenever he sees people in trouble . His recent campaign to provide food for many thousands of people is just the latest in a very long line of selfless and effective acts.

“On tour in the US, our crew bus was involved in a serious accident, with crew thrown out into the road. While most crew woke up stunned, Barrie was straight into action, pulling injured crew members out to safety in case the bus caught fire. The young driver was trapped by the metal that had been pushed into him by the collision; Barrie didn’t leave until he had released the injured driver and got him out safely .

“I have never seen Barrie down. He is always positive and never has a bad word for any of us. I feel very lucky to have worked with him and I really hope all his generosity and concern for others might allow him one day to be rewarded and recognised as a real knight of the realm, which he thoroughly deserves.”

To find out more about Big Knight Out/In’s fundraising efforts, visit the Big Knight In YouTube channel, or donate directly on Knight’s Crowdfunder page.

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Sandra Beckmann & Tom Koperek

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Sandra Beckmann and Tom Koperek, who conceived the #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) campaign in Germany, and follow Just a Bunch of Roadies’ Charlie Hernandez.


As a single mother of three children, Sandra Beckmann embodies the mantra that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. A 25-year veteran of the live entertainment industry, she began her career as a freelance technician for light and video installations, but over the years developed a specialist network dedicated to providing all kinds of services to run events and stage shows.

At the end of 2019, she launched service agency Event-Kombinat, for which the future was looking bright until the coronavirus took its hold and she realised that without live events, the industry would face a wave of insolvencies.

Beckmann took it upon herself to raise awareness of the plight of those working behind the scenes and began banging on the doors of politicians to highlight the situation, which helped her gain access to some of the earliest high-level coronavirus crisis meetings in Berlin.

Aside from her lobbying activities, her social media campaign drew together more than 3,500 members across all parts of the live entertainment business for the Initiative für die Veranstaltungswirtschaft (Initiative for the Event Industry.) However, when the design of the first support programmes did not meet the needs of those working in this business, she decided to revise her strategy.

Beckmann teamed up with Tom Koperek from LK AG to work on the Night of Light campaign, which won nationwide attention on the night of 22 June when more than 8,000 buildings in over 1,000 cities were simultaneously illuminated red as a flaming memorial in reference to the terrible situation in the event industry.

The project’s mission was to force dialogue between industry representatives and political players to underline the dire circumstances of the live events business and establish tailor- made support measures for the industry.

In fact, the Night of Light was more than just a media success. Companies all over the world have joined the campaign and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid and support.

Companies all over the world have joined the campaign, and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid

Ironically, in Germany, its organisers say that the concept was perceived as a nice ambient lighting event, and that politically, it moved nothing. “Instead it caused the alliance of #AlarmstufeRot to be born,” says Beckmann.

On 5 August, demonstrations took place simultaneously in front of the houses of provincial governments in several federal states, and every Wednesday at 12.05pm, demonstrations under the banner of #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) took place nationwide, leading up to the first major demonstration in Berlin on 9 September, where around 15,000 protesters took part in a march, as well as about 500 vehicles on the car route.

This demonstration finally achieved one of its main mission targets, as the first serious dialogue with various governmental officials quickly followed and Beckmann even had a meeting with Olaf Scholz, the minister of finance, which paved the way for a dedicated rescue summit.

“I am so proud of this movement, its joint efforts and achievements, but above all of my ‘job family,’ which has once again shown that we as an industry are capable of great things,” Beckmann adds.

For his part, Koperek says, “At the beginning of the corona crisis it almost seemed to me that politicians apparently have never even heard of the term ‘live events industry.’” However, thanks to the work of everyone involved in the Red Alert alliance, he reveals, “We now have a community of almost 50,000 followers on Facebook and almost 40,000 followers on Instagram. This makes the alliance #AlarmstufeRot the largest group to advocate for the various segments of the live entertainment industry in Germany.”

But the battle is ongoing. Rather than running his own business enterprises, Koperek says he now spends 80% of his time working for Alarmstufe Rot. He pays tribute to LK business partner Sven Robusch, and adds that, “A small core team are working tirelessly and intensively on all corporate issues.” He ends by saying, “We can’t stand by and watch the world’s hottest industry hit the wall. We must not give up. There will be a life with events, even after corona!”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Music Venue Trust

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with the UK’s Music Venue Trust, which follows Musically Fed’s Maria Brunner.


Led by husband and wife founders, Mark Davyd and Beverley Whitrick, Music Venue Trust (MVT) also counts Clara Cullen, Sarah Claudine and Menna Grasser as its core team.

However, during the pandemic, MVT has enhanced its team with a number of national and regional co-ordinators who include Nick Stewart, Sam Dabb, Stu Fletcher, Jay Taylor, Danni Brownsill, Chris Sherrington, Harkirit Boparai, Luke Hinton, Sophie Asquith, Keiron Marshall, Sam Jones, Geoff Priestley, Barney Jeavons, Tom Maddicott, Matt Otridge, Toni Coe-Brooker and Lucy Stone.

Strategic director Beverley Whitrick explains, “Music Venue Trust started 2020 with plans to build on the success of 2019 – the first year in which more grassroots music venues (GMVs) opened than closed in the UK. Having spent the last few years trying to build understanding of the vital role that these venues play as cultural, social and economic hubs and creating a community of venues (the Music Venues Alliance, or MVA), we planned to move to a more formal, paid membership model and travel around the country consulting widely with the people who run these venues.”

As the coronavirus pandemic spread and restrictions hit live music and venues hard, that strategy, of course, had to be scrapped. “Instead we found ourselves completely changing plans, appointing lots of temporary team members, and the MVA growing from 600 venues in January to over 900 by November (membership is still free).”

At the start of 2020, MVT had only two full-time members of staff, but Whitrick pays tribute to the committed team members who stepped up to focus full-time on the plight of the UK’s small venues, which, in history, have never needed more help.

“We needed three things: more money, more people and more lobbying power”

“Our early surveys and reports identified that we needed three things: more money, more people and more lobbying power,” says Whitrick. “We created #SaveOurVenues to try and tackle all three, embarking on a huge crowdfunding campaign to pay for a bigger team and raise money for venues, while also creating a focus for PR and lobbying.”

That effort worked. Since the end of April, more than £3 million (€3.3m) has been raised thanks to artists, photographers, designers, merch companies, music industry donors, music fans and the mayor of London.

The money raised enabled MVT to appoint MVA coordinators across the UK to work individually with every venue in the network and to assist clubs and businesses to apply for any money they could claim from governments or local authorities.

“Key to our work has been giving all layers of government reports about the financial interventions needed to sustain venues. We have worked with cultural funders to help design funding, and then guided venues through the process of applying for funding – most of them for the first time.

“This work is ongoing, but so far £60m [€67m] has been secured by GMVs, exceeding our expectations of the recognition they would receive for their cultural value. Our team has been incredible at teaching, supporting and encouraging people who had never thought they could (or should) have to lay out why their work is as eligible for support as any theatre, concert hall or arts centre.”

Unfortunately, not everyone was eligible or successful in obtaining funds, so the work continues. Whitrick adds, “MVT always aims to be practical and effective. We also understand the need for mental health support, and are grateful that our venue community exists and is well supported by other parts of the music ecosystem. We are still working on ways to reopen every venue safely, and hope that will happen soon so we can all get back to experiencing live music in intimate spaces.”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Maria Brunner

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Musically Fed founder Maria Brunner, who follows the NTIA’s Michael Kill.


Musically Fed was initially formed five years ago with the purpose of taking leftover backstage catering from concerts and live events in the United States and repurposing it to those in need, with a special focus on serving veterans’ organisations.

“We have repurposed food from local concerts and festivals in Phoenix, [Arizona], and special events like CMA Fest and the Grammys, and we were working national tours with artists like Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Shawn Mendes, the Lumineers, the Zac Brown Band and more to repurpose backstage catering in each market of their tour,” explains founder Maria Brunner. “When live events stopped happening and we realised our own industry workers were now in need, we quickly pivoted.”

Including December, since the pandemic shut down live events Musically Fed has provided 122,462 meals.

“In March, we reached out to [food and beverage supplier] Levy [Restaurants] to take Phoenix Suns catering from Talking Stick Resort Arena and distribute it to the community in Phoenix. In addition, we reached out to the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center and were able to repurpose everything they had for school lunch programmes across the city of Los Angeles.”

“Through private donations and creative peer-to-peer fundraising, we are able to bring food into these cities in need”

Brunner continues, “In April, our drive-through food distributions started with a phone call to Jake Berry, who quickly brought in Jeff Giek from Rhino Staging. It was obvious from that phone call that gig workers across the country were either not going to qualify for unemployment, or what they were going to get was not much. Because Rhino’s corporate office is located in Phoenix, we decided to try a drive-through food distribution programme that would provide prepared meals and produce to families in need.”

The concept began with 50 cars, and throughout the months the process has been refined to the point where nobody has to leave their car. Rather, Rhino volunteers put boxes of produce, prepared food, and dry goods in the boot of each recipient’s car.

“Once we had the programme refined, we launched it in Denver, thanks to a partnership with Conscious Alliance. That programme serves 50 families in need every week. Phoenix serves 50–100 families twice a month. And thanks to a grant and partnership with World Central Kitchen, we have been conducting drive-through food distributions every other week in Nashville, where special thanks is being given to Clair Global and Bandit Lites for hosting these drive-throughs.”

Indeed, noting just how much the live music production community has stepped up during the pandemic crisis, Brunner reveals Musically Fed has been able to launch a national programme, focusing on key cities in need.

“The first was Nashville on 12–13 July,” she recalls. “We distributed food to over 200 live music and entertainment industry workers in need, and distributed 22,000 meals to those in need throughout the city overall, through outlets like the Store and Nashville Rescue Mission.

“Musically Fed hopes to serve those in need as long as they need it”

On Labor Day, Musically Fed partnered with Just a Bunch of Roadies and Loaves and Fishes to host a 200-car drive-through in Minneapolis for industry workers in need. “We have since held similar large-scale initiatives in Atlanta in partnership with Midwest Food Bank and the Infinite Energy Center, as well as in San Diego,” reports Brunner.

“All of these have been made possible by the support of Jake Berry of Jake Berry Productions, Charlie Hernandez of Just a Bunch of Roadies, Jeff Giek of Rhino Staging, Rutger Jansen of Insomniac Events, and Chris Schuman of James Thomas Productions. Through private donations and creative peer-to-peer fundraising, we are able to bring food into these cities in need, rather than deplete their food banks.”

With no end to the pandemic certain as yet, Brunner comments, “Through 2021, we plan to keep up bi-weekly food distributions January through June for Phoenix, Nashville and Denver, and we would like to do major distributions in Austin, Dallas and New Orleans if we can get the funding.

“I think the vaccine is going to be helpful, but I also think it’s going to take time to work with local and state governments to come up with a very focused and organised game plan to get live music back on its feet, depending on the tour and the artist. Musically Fed hopes to serve those in need as long as they need it.”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Michael Kill

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) CEO, Michael Kill, who follows UK-based concert promoter Alexandra Ampofo.


As the CEO of the Night Time Industry Association (NTIA), Michael Kill’s primary goal is to ensure that both its members and the wider industry has a voice. “We aim to protect, serve, and redefine the narrative surrounding nightlife without being engulfed by restrictive government structures and assumptions,” he states.

“Needless to say, the arrival of Covid-19 in March has made the past eight months the most testing and demanding in the NTIA’s short, six-year history. Fortunately, myself and the majority of the team share over two decades’ worth of experience in the night time industries, and that’s positioned us well to tackle each obstacle as it arrives.”

Covid has taken a tremendous toll on the night-time economy in the UK, with tens of thousands of businesses and millions of employees facing hardship, as government restrictions time and again ignore their plight – until Kill and his NTIA team step in…

“From the beginning of campaigning, we realised that one of our biggest strengths was the night-time community itself”

“From the very beginning of campaigning, we realised that one of our biggest strengths was the night-time community itself, and so we’ve worked hard to bring together and support businesses and individuals at every level,” says Kill. “We’ve focused heavily on strong communications, not only to galvanise our own community but also to realign the night-time industries within a cultural context so it’s recognised for its achievements and gets the backing it deserves.”

He continues, “It has been a political rollercoaster. In a bid to secure financial support packages and government clarity, we’ve come up against various task forces and departments, many with their own differing objectives and opinions. Nevertheless, campaigns like #LetUsDance and #Savenightlife have secured vital funding for the electronic music scene, raising £350k [€390k] in support of venues across the country, and securing unrivalled visibility for the cause. And there’s much more to come.

“At the NTIA, we continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the industry so that future generations can build the same connections, experiences and values that have been so pivotal to all our lives. For me – both personally and professionally – I know I wouldn’t be the same without it.”

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Alexandra Ampofo

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with UK-based concert promoter Alexandra Ampofo, who joins the previously announced #feedourcrew in South Africa.


In addition to her regular duties as a promoter at Metropolis Music, Alex Ampofo has won praise from bosses for her consistent, caring communication with colleagues, as well as her tireless work with industry organisations Women Connect, Acoustic Live and Embrace Nation.

Ampofo launched Acoustic Live as an effort to keep stripped back music alive. “Over the last few months, we have been putting together webinars focused on moving the diversity dial in touring, hosting socially distanced music and poetry workshops, and continuing to support up-and-coming musicians with free services,” she tells IQ. “I also now sit on the board of directors for The F List, a directory of UK female musicians. Our mission is to help female and gender-minority musicians overcome structural barriers in the music industry.”

Also a not-for-profit female collective, Women Connect has a remit to create safer, inclusive spaces and equal opportunities for women, non-binary and gender-fluid people in the creative industry. Ampofo reports, “This year we managed to throw a sold-out international women’s party at Sony Music (pre-Covid), hosted themed online events to raise money for different charities, and started our own mentoring scheme with a full house of 20 mentees.”

“Our aim is to bring a new depth to understanding what our privileges are and encourage a safe space for open dialogue”

She continues, “Embrace Nation is also doing really well. We’ve had some great interaction in our company communications, and we’re doing our best to keep the conversations going, especially those about appropriate terminology, background and culture. Our aim is to bring a new depth to understanding what our privileges are and encourage a safe space for open dialogue.”

Also one of IQ’s New Bosses in 2020, Ampofo is inspiring other young people in the industry to engage in extra-curricular activities that, over time, will help make the live entertainment industry a better working environment.

She concludes, “It’s so important to communicate while we are all isolated, I think times like these can really highlight how vulnerable people actually are, and how much we rely on physical interaction in our day-to-day lives. Social media has made it easier to check in on our loved ones, that’s something to take advantage of if extra support is needed.”

 


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