By R.V. Baugus
Dr. Julian Maha, M.D, founder and CEO of KultureCity, understands first-hand the importance of inclusivity as he created the world’s first “start-up” non profit when his oldest son was diagnosed as autistic.
Today, Dr. Maha is one of the most in-demand speakers and has presented around the world to all types of major companies and organizations. He will lead a panel discussion at IAVM’s GuestX, February 17-19, in San Diego, on the topic of Inclusive Venue Operations & Accessibility.
Some of the issues and topics that will be addressed at GuestX include ADA law updates from a member of our legal community as well as information on interpreters, closed captioning, nursing guest accommodations, sensory inclusion, wayfinding and much more. Mostly, it is about making sure your venue is inclusive. Looking for the best ways to do that? You will not want to miss Dr. Maha’s session.
Before San Diego, though, Dr. Maha visited with us and answered some questions about the session, about inclusion, and what he wishes to accomplish at GuestX to give attendees the best possible knowledge to implement at their venues.
“Inclusion” is a word that is used quite a bit these days. Can you give your definition of the word as it relates to any workplace?
It means everyone has the right to be apart of the workspace regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, and ability. Inclusion ensures that not only do they have the right but also given the tools and the right environment to succeed in. By doing this, we create a world where everyone has a chance to be valuable and contributing member of society.
Why up until now was “inclusion” a word not often used but also not often practiced in many organizations?
I think with increased knowledge and also from the ability standpoint the increase in sheer numbers of those with different abilities many organizations have realized that in order to be effective companies they need to learn how to include everyone. This ensures increase productivity and workplace culture, as all these different individuals when included and given the right environment to succeed, add great value to each and every organization.
What will be some of the highlights and items that your panel will cover on the subject matter?
I think the importance of looking beyond the common definition of inclusion and understanding the importance of sensory inclusion. I also think you will take away the many benefits of becoming sensory inclusive not only to the organizations but also the population each organization serves.
Talk some about how KultureCity works with groups to help them become more inclusive.
We provide training, sensory bags, social story building, app integration and also in some cases sensory room design and out fitting. The most importance thing though that we provide is an on going partnership built with the help of individuals on our team that have sensory needs and also trained professionals that are constantly innovating and pushing the envelope to create the best environment for all.
We see we have Imagine Dragons as part of the panel. Please do share!
Daniel Platzman is from the Imagine Dragons. He has a family connection to sensory needs and also was a sensory seeking child, He is a huge advocate for inclusion and overall great guy. He will bring the viewpoint of why a venue should be inclusive from the business standpoint as more and more acts are making their decisions of which venues to perform at based on sensory inclusion.
6What are some main takeaways you would like to leave attendees at your GuestX session before they return to their workplace?
How easy it is to partner with KultureCIty and the many great benefits that you can get not only from the guest experience standpoint but also from the business standpoint.
To register for GuestX, click here.
By City of Fort Worth and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
Michael E. Crum has been named director of the City of Fort Worth’s Public Events Department. He comes to his new position that he will begin in early February after a successful career as vice president for business development and chief financial officer for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), where he has been responsible for developing collaborative efforts between the CRVA and its community partners, as well as overseeing the agency’s accounting budget, audit, information technology, strategic planning, research, business analysis, application delivery, security and risk management functions.
“Mike Crum brings an impressive résumé in facility management to Fort Worth,” Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa said. “As Fort Worth looks toward expanding and renovating its downtown convention center, we will rely on Crum’s experience in developing convention business and bringing new and exciting venues online.”
Crum went to Charlotte in 1989 as director of finance for the Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority, and in 1997 was named the Authority’s managing director. In this capacity, he was at the center of Charlotte’s efforts to retain the NBA Hornets and in 2002, helped negotiate the agreement that led to the development of Spectrum Center and the return of an NBA franchise to the market.
In 2004, Crum oversaw the merger of the Authority with Visit Charlotte, Charlotte’s convention and visitors’ bureau, to create the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). He subsequently served as the CRVA’s chief operating officer until the reorganization of the CRVA’s management structure in 2012.
Prior to coming to Charlotte, Crum worked in the Facility Management Division of the Pacer Basketball Corp. in Indianapolis from 1987-1989.
During his tenure in Charlotte, Crum was involved with national events like the 1994 NCAA Men’s Final Four, the 1996 Women’s Final Four, the 1991 and 2019 NBA All-Star Games, the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and the future 2020 Republican National Convention. He also participated in the development of the Charlotte Convention Center, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and renovations of Bojangles’ Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium.
“Following Mike’s 30 years of service with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA), we’ve been working together to identify the next step in his career, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” said Tom Murray, Tom Murray, Chief Executive Officer for
CRVA. “Fort Worth will benefit from his incredible depth and breadth of experience, just as Charlotte has for so many years.”
Crum holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has served on the boards of directors for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Charlotte Sports Foundation and Champions for Education, the organization that oversees the operation of the Wells Fargo Championship.
The City of Fort Worth’s Public Events Department oversees the operations of downtown’s Fort Worth Convention Center and the Cultural District’s Will Rogers Memorial Center.
By R.V. Baugus
Ebony Hattix, box office manager for FedEx Forum in Memphis, was recognized along with nine other women and some fellow IAVM members in the International Ticketing Association (INTIX)’s yearly review of inspiration women.
Under the heading of Ebony Hattix: A Superhero in Ticketing, Hattix talked about big opportunities she sees in the year ahead for ticketing. Hattix was honored along with Jane Kleinberger, Linda Forlini, Amy Graca, Crystal Brewe, Lynne King Smith, Jo Michel, Angela Higgins, Sherletha (Lisa) Thomas-Cutts, and Stevie Gray.
Hattix’s comments were presented by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program, sponsored by Lynne King Smith and TicketForce.
“I love people! Building relationships and creating positive experiences is my favorite part of this job,” said the always positive Hattix. “Sometimes, the most interesting people are not always on stage. Learning about people and being able to create a show or an event that will somehow enhance the power of someone’s fond memory is honestly epic.”
Hattix manages the day-to-day ticketing operations of any events hosted at FedExForum. “Our box office team works as liaisons between all departments of the organizations, promoters and Ticketmaster,” she said, “to host events from manifest creation to event settlement. We handle reporting, sales order processing, daily ticket financials, general questions, [and] manage part-time employees. Anything ticketing is our responsibility!”
Hattix knows customer service well following a year at the Disney College Program in Orlando following her graduation from the University of Mississippi. In Orlando, she worked in a number of different industries early on — everything from hotels to interior design to public housing.
She also had a part-time position at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., where she eventually worked her way up to the Assistant Director of Ticketing position.
Hattix shared with INTIX her thoughts on how the public assembly venue continues making strides in diversity.
“Doors of opportunity are there for everyone,” she told INTIX. “And if you find one closed, knock it down! The world of ticketing is ever changing, so find how you can make it better and go do it. Opportunity is everywhere in this area of the industry. If you are interested in ticketing, find a good mentor and just jump right in.
“Never compare yourself to anyone else in terms of success, beauty, life, etc. You don’t know someone else’s journey. Surround yourself with people different from you. It is how we learn, and never stop learning. Those around you should challenge you to be better — a better person, a better employee, a better whatever. Push yourself further than you thought you could go, but do it for you and not others.”
Hattix serves on IAVM’s Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Committee, where she continues making a difference in the industry.
By Kaitlyn Spinney
When the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. wanted to position the arena and convention center as a go-to wedding destination — as well as showcase several dozen wedding vendors — they married a local couple in front of a room full of “wedding crashers.”
Shelby Looker and I were ready to step out of a 10’ x 10’ vendor show booth and really show what our facility can do for weddings and receptions.
On November 8, the sales department at Alerus partnered with The White House Co. to host the inaugural “To Have and To Hold: A LIVE Wedding Show,” but several months before the event, the venue launched a social media campaign inviting people to nominate a couple (or self-nominate) who would not only be willing to get married in front of strangers but also have no control over the planning. After reading more than 70 applications and conducting in-person interviews, the team selected Carly and Tyler.
Truthfully, when we met Carly and Tyler, it felt like a first date and a proposal. They were the perfect couple for the event because they were willing to sit back and let us make all the creative decisions, which was a must.
Next, the Alerus sales department signed on 27 local wedding vendors, ranging from photography to flowers to attire, to contribute their talent and creativity to create a perfect wedding for Carly and Tyler.
Because this event was so new, the Alerus team was tasked with explaining the unique event to each vendor, but most were on board to try something new. Vendors were required to bring their newest ideas and products to showcase during the event. The room set up for the day of the wedding highlighted each vendor’s contributions and provided them with a small cocktail table around the outside of the room where they could meet interested brides. Additionally, one of the DJs for the evening gave tasteful shoutouts throughout the night to point out vendor contributions.
The event was geared toward two target markets: brides and wedding crashers. Potential brides could come see their vendors in action, and shop for new ideas. Wedding crashers were invited to buy a $20 ticket so they could enjoy the wedding, champagne toast, a three course meal, and dance the night away. The evening was perfect for a date night, or people who love weddings but don’t want to deal with family drama or bringing a gift.
At the end of the event, the bride and groom could not have been happier. They danced the night away, and their families complimented the whole process. As an added bonus, each vendor received a number of high-quality photos that showcase their work, which was an important selling point.
Couples and vendors are already asking if this will be an annual event!
Kaitlyn Spinney is Director of Conference Sales & Marketing for Spectra Venue Management’s Alerus Center.
Photo by Fernweh and Lieb Photography
By R.V. Baugus
The LinkedIn profile says it all about Bill McElrath: RETIRED at Des Moines Performing Arts.
That, folks, would seemingly say it all, but it really does not scratch the surface of the career of an industry icon who spent 47 years in the business, the last 20 as business director of said Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA), where he served in two different time periods working in nearly every single department area.
McElrath also worked at the venue in 1979 as assistant manager, the same year he joined then IAAM to start a 31-year run as a dedicated volunteer and worked on the Association’s Certification Board for 14 years where he worked tirelessly to create the new Certified Venue Professional (CVP) designation.
After working with so many, I can say that there is a certain beautiful quality about IAVM members in the Midwest, many whom never leave the region to work in the industry while others like McElrath who go elsewhere only to return to those calling roots.
IAVM Chair Tammy Koolbeck, CVE, attended McElrath’s retirement celebration over the holidays to pay tribute to her long-time friend, and was happy to hear the accolades bestowed on McElrath by DMPA President and CEO Jeff Chelesvig.
McElrath, who graduated from Iowa State University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering with an added emphasis on Economics (there’s that business director link!), began his career at his alma mater in 1972 when he was recruited by Al Dyer to become a stagehand at the Iowa State Center.
After his stint at DMPA beginning in 1979, McElrath departed in 1985 to work first at the Salt Lake County Fine Arts Division and later the San Diego Convention & Performing Arts Center.
“He returned to DMPA in 1999 and has served in various leadership roles as our organization grew and evolved,” Chelesvig said. “His impact can be seen today in our organization and across our industry.
“As a dedicated Apple user, he oversaw the first all-Macintosh computer network in a performing arts venue.”
How is that for trivia and innovation? And it is also not surprising of a true Midwest gentleman who loved his work and loved his association.
Photo: Jeff Chelsvig, DMPA; Tammy Koolbeck, IAVM Chair; Bill McElrath, DMPA; and Laura Sweet, DMPA.