By Michalle Riehle-Ludtke
The Los Angeles Convention Center & Levy Restaurants teamed up Musically Fed, a nonprofit that works with artists, promoters, management, and venues nationwide to donate unused, backstage meals to community organizations comprised of at least 50% veterans and focus on feeding the homeless, hungry, and food insecure, to donate and distribute 4,000 pounds of food to the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools benefiting students and their families grades 6-12.
Musically Fed, after being notified of another 4,000-pound surplus, resulting from event cancellations, harnessed relationships garnered during its GRAMMY Awards initiative. In 24 hours, Musically Fed connected with Alliance facilitating a cooperative effort powered by LACC, Levy Restaurants and Musically Fed. This amalgamation of socially-minded organizations successfully provided several bags of free groceries for hundreds of students and their families.
“We are thrilled to share the success of this initiative,” said Ellen Schwartz, General Manager, Los Angeles Convention Center. “As a facility committed to sustainability and community service, Musically Fed was a perfect partner to further our goals to reduce our environmental footprint while serving those in need.”
COVID-19 school closures and the ravaged grocery shelves left in its wake, left many Alliance families ill-prepared due to both the depletion of available food and their dependence on the schools for daily sustenance.
“It was amazing to see how quickly everyone moved for a common good,” commented Jonathan Tiongco, Founding Principal for the Alliance Marine – Innovation & Technology 6-12 Complex, which is part of Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. “After a few texts, everyone sent out eblasts and posted to our Facebook parenting boards. Two hours later, hundreds of families showed up with tears of joy in their eyes.”
“Schools and at-risk populations have been all the more acutely impacted by this pandemic,” commented Musically Fed’s CEO, Maria Brunner. “Our amazing partnership with Levy Restaurants and the Los Angeles Convention Center, provides a beacon of light from civic-minded organizations; leveraging their resources and compassion to positively impact so many families, during this otherwise dark time.”
“At Levy, we are continuously looking for new ways to help and give back to the community whenever we can,” said Patrick Smart, General Manager, Taste of LA by Levy, LACC. “Working with Musically Fed during GRAMMYS was such a great experience, we knew they would be the best group to call when we were looking to repurpose food, and ensure our community was benefiting from our donation.”
Michalle Riehle-Ludtke is Marketing & Community Relations Specialist for the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Photo: Levy Restaurants team at the LACC after loading 4,000 pounds of food donations.
By R.V. Baugus
The Jacob K. Javits Center has been in the national news with construction of a temporary medical station to house non-COVID-19 patients and relieve the burden on local hospitals.
The venue sent out a tweet on Thursday morning that reads, Our workforce constructs extraordinary events and exhibits throughout the year, but this is the first time we’re building a medical facility inside our halls. We’re honored to help New Yorkers in need during this global crisis. #covid19
By this time next week, the 1.8 million square-feet venue will include a 1,000-bed medical station for non-COVID-19 cases and overseen by more than 300 federal workers.
“I want to thank (IAVM member) Alan Steele, who runs this convention center,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a March 23 press conference. “He has put on many shows before, and his team is very adaptable, but this is the first time they have ever built a hospital inside the Javits Center.”
The addition is called the New York Medical Station at the Javits Center and serves as an overflow hospital to treat non-COVID-19 illnesses. In all, there will be four separate 250-bed facilities to help with the overflow from the escalating cases in the City.
The help from the convention center comes at a time when it is undergoing a massive expansion and renovation that actually should help once the temporary medical stations are erected, as will upgrades made during the last major expansion in 2014 that included a better lighting system and new mechanical systems to reduce noise and improve air quality.
It also helps that the Javits Center has enormous loading docks that will allow for moving in freight in rapid turnarounds.
When all is complete, an additional 2,000 beds will be onsite to ease the strain of New York’s overtaxed hospitals receiving patients in large numbers.
By Brian Wright
As I look back on my first 10 years in the venue management industry, I realize that the one common aspect of each of my roles has been internships. Heck, I did four of them during college with Finley Stadium, Chattanooga Lookouts, The Ripken Experience, and the Chattanooga Lookouts again.
In both of my full-time roles at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, TN, as venue manager and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as assistant facility maintenance manager, interns have played a critical role in our operation. In two-and-a-half years at Mercedes-Benz alone, we have had 17 operations interns, and six of them are now working full-time in the organization and numerous others elsewhere in the industry.
It is one of those rites of passages most of us went through to get where we are today and we regularly sit at lunch and tell current interns horror stories of grungy tasks we once had to do. The competitiveness of our industry forces college graduates to take on internships before being considered for entry-level positions. And so, as employers, we know that interns need us to build their resumes and get their career off the ground. But rarely is it discussed how vital interns are to us being able to pull off our events and project schedules during our busiest times of the year, while not killing our budgets with overhead.
Thus, venues must make it a priority to have an internship program that is focused on the individual and developing their experience. Here are a few strategies we have used at Finley Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium toward that effort that I believe can help launch the individual’s career:
1. Hire slow and set the tone.
I have been fortunate to live on both sides of the coin hiring wise. At Finley, we were lucky to get 20 applicants, all from UT-Chattanooga, whereas at MBS we have averaged 200+ each hiring period from around the world. Regardless of which category you fall in, the idea is the same: review each resume carefully and look for some relatable experience to pick your interview candidates. Then hire from the interview for attitude over aptitude. As a wise man once said, “You can teach aptitude, you cannot teach attitude.”
My first day as ticket operations intern at the Chattanooga Lookouts at age 18, I was taken to the back steps (the ballpark sits on a sizable hill) and set up on a pressure washer. Not knowing how to turn it off (or for that matter on), I continued happily pressure washing all day long. Our owner, Frank Burke, who was also working very hard mowing the hill with a residential push mower (which further imprinted on my first impressions that everyone in this industry works their butt off), noticed me and started calling me Honey Badger, a nickname that I couldn’t escape in Chattanooga.
So, to overemphasize the ups and downs of working in our industry I choose to make the first day of our internship program very exciting with tours, meeting people, and generally fun activities. But, the second day I assign a cumbersome task or project to see where their work ethic and attention to detail is. Only one time has an intern walked out on the second day (because he was above pressure washing), but he saved himself the trouble of later finding out this industry was not for him.
2. Welcome feedback and personalize the internship.
Remember what it was like the first day of your first internship when everything in sports and events was sunshine and roses, but quickly reality alters your perspective and you find your likes, dislikes, and questions? It is so important that you provide opportunities for your interns to interact with you one-on-one regularly. This is an exercise we do every two months formally, and more often, informally. It is a good opportunity to keep your interns steered in their right direction and receive open, honest feedback. It is then your job to provide them opportunities to get closer to their passion, as this is where they will be at their best.
3. Provide opportunity for ownership.
Encourage your interns to find gaps in your operation and let them fill those voids. We have created multiple positions at Mercedes-Benz with interns where our initial staffing model fell short. In each of those cases the intern saw an opportunity through open-ended projects with an end goal and a few loose steps to guide along the way and took the initiative to turn it into their own. By the end of the internship, they not only laid the framework for the position, but sold themselves to fill it.
4. DON’T kick them to the curb.
If your company has open positions your interns could be qualified for, try to keep them. But never discourage them from seeking full-time employment elsewhere (even in the middle of their internship) or try to keep them on as an intern after their internship period is up. Both serve a disservice to them. Their goal is to get a full-time job, so if it isn’t in the cards at your venue, they should get additional experience elsewhere to get closer to reaching that goal.
Being intern-centric means you will actively help your interns take the next step in their career. The biggest mistake interns and entry-level job seekers make in my opinion is simply listing the job descriptions on their resume. Employers want to see what specifically you accomplished, how you made your venue better through metrics, and what your venue is doing now because of you that they weren’t doing before. To be able to do that, Internship program leaders need to provide opportunities to ask questions, take ownership, and provide work in areas they are passionate about. That is when you find out what someone is capable of, and ultimately help them reach their goals.
Brian Wright is assistant facility maintenance manager at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
If you are an IAVM member who has been furloughed from your employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or someone who at this time does not have access to your work email, please log in to VenueNet and create your preferred contact email so that you will not miss receiving important and valuable information coming from IAVM. This is an unprecedented time that we are living in and it is our goal to support our members throughout this crisis and beyond.
IAVM Region 1, 2, 3 & 5 friends and colleagues:
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted us all, and along with meeting and travel restrictions in both Kansas City and the State of Missouri, the Region Directors and their Boards have made the decision to postpone our IAVM Region 1, 2, 3, & 5 Super Regional Conference scheduled for April 26-29 in Kansas City, MO to spring 2021.
We are currently working with our host venues on a spring 2021 date, and as soon as we get this confirmed we will let you know. Your conference registration will be transferable over to the spring 2021 Super Regional Conference; however, if you’d like a refund, please contact IAVM and we will issue you a refund of your registration fee. All refund requests must be submitted to IAVM at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 24, 2020.
We know you are working hard in your communities to respond to our current situation. Be well. Be safe. We’ll see you in Kansas City, MO in 2021!
Scott Hallgren, CVE
Region 3 Director