BizBash - Design 2018 - 10

Rehan Choudhry, who founded the Life Is
Beautiful music festival in Las Vegas before parting ways with the event in 2016, moved on to
launch the Emerge Impact & Music Conference.
The new event-which drew 75 musicians, 50
speakers, and 7,500 attendees to Las Vegas from
April 6 to 8-was designed to combine the worlds
of music and conferences into a forum for social
impact. Choudhry is the founder and C.E.O. of
media and event company A Beautiful Perspective,
and was previously the director of special events
for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel.

O

ver the last two decades, we have experienced the
introduction and subsequent fast rise in popularity of major music festivals. On an annual basis,
millions of attendees descend onto large parks and
fields in cities around the country to immerse themselves in thousands of festivals, each featuring their own
over-the-top presentation of music, food, and art. And
while the sets and stages have gotten bigger and bigger, the importance of the individual attendee's role and
needs seems to get smaller and smaller by comparison.
It is no secret that large-scale events have become
the instrument of choice for younger generations
looking to satisfy their thirst for artistic inspiration,
social connection, and a much-needed break from their
day-to-day lives. But how should we think about our
100,000 festival guests differently when we know
that more teens will die of suicide than cancer, heart

battles with bullying or understanding their sexuality.
You will get more meaningful content and differentiate yourselves from the rest of the pack.

2. To solve a problem, you have to first
understand that there is one.

5. Diversify your programming.

What are the issues plaguing your audience? What
are the gun violence statistics in the neighborhoods
surrounding your festival grounds? Has race-related
violence increased in the last year? Are specific minority groups oppressed? What does your city/state rank
in education nationally? My former state of Nevada is
ranked 51st out of 50 states [plus D.C.] in education.

3. Do your research.

disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease-combined? We live
in a world hanging on the balance and we have the
tools at our disposal to make a real difference.
Here are my rules for using events as a catalyst
for social impact.

1. It's not just about fund-raising anymore.

It's about making a meaningful connection. In the
past, festivals got away with raising money for causes.
The line "$1 from every ticket we sell is going to XYZ
Foundation" has become the norm. Handing a
giant check over to a nonprofit organization at the
end of your event is great-but what is more important is taking the opportunity to meaningfully connect with your audience. To understand who they are
and what makes them tick. Develop an emotional

The stats are easy to come by. What's harder is allocating resources (time, money, or other) to digging into the
issues and figuring out real solutions. Engage with your
community-survey your audiences, hold focus groups,
and actually listen when they speak. And bring in strategic partners with expertise. I'm not expecting everyone
to become an expert in social work overnight-go partner with existing organizations. Nonprofit movement
To Write Love on Her Arms has figured out how to attack teenage suicide through music partnerships, while
(Red) is dedicated to eradicating AIDS from the planet.

4. Social issues do not have to be downers.
Create interactive art installations where people can
share their fears or dreams anonymously. Encourage
talent to share their causes of choice before or after
their performances. Your festival headliner is going to
give 100 interviews this year about his or her album,
tour, and songwriting process. Don't be another repetitive storyline-interview them on the issues they
advocate for. Have them share stories of their own

When I founded Life is Beautiful in 2013, I introduced a
festival speaker series where world-renowned entrepreneurs, activists, artists, and thought leaders took
the stage to share their contributions with the world.
With Emerge Impact & Music, we're doubling down
on that messaging by integrating emerging music
and progressive ideas on the same stage. It's OK to
add some intelligent programming to your festival
lineups; your audience will thank you for it.
You or someone on your team is undoubtedly going
to say something to the effect of, "People are coming
to our events to party, not share their feelings or talk
about social issues." That is naive and dated thinking.
Look outside your doors-in the last 12 months we
have seen millions of people congregate to march for
women's rights, for human rights, for black lives, protection from guns, and for their fellow Americans. We
are fighting for equal rights for the L.G.B.T. community; for the protection of immigrants, women, teachers,
the sick, the hungry, and the poor; and for the planet
our grandchildren will inherit.
The era of the activist is officially upon us. Your
event audience is demanding change. Will you join
the fight or get left behind?
Read more about how Choudhry
made the Emerge Impact & Music
Conference an accessible forum for
community and social justice.

photo: Antonio Abrego

my rules

attachment to your audience that extends beyond
their short-term happiness and into their long-term
wellbeing.


https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/education/nevada-ranks-last-in-us-for-education-but-officials-upbeat/ https://www.bizbash.com/qa-why-this-music-festival-founder-launching-an-ambitious-new-conference/las-vegas/story/34460

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