By R.V. Baugus
As our friends in Australia remain on alert for continuing wildfires that started in September, the public assembly venue industry and its tenants are rallying to the cause to help provide financial help in the wake of a disaster that has seen Prime Minister Scott Morrison put a death toll at 27 with more than 2,000 homes burned across an area larger than the size of West Virginia. Experts add that more than 1 billion animals are feared dead from the fires.
Against that backdrop, the AFL Aussie rules football league confirmed that Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium will host a landmark State of Origin match to raise funds for the bushfire relief effort. Victoria will play against an all-star roster on February, with money raised being donated to a community relief fund set up by the AFL to help rebuild Aussie rules facilities demolished by the fires. Already, the AFL has earmarked $926,000 toward the effort. The AFL Women’s match between Collingwood and Melbourne scheduled for February 28 at Victoria Park will now be played at Marvel Stadium as part of a double-header with the State of Origin fixture.
Sydney’s ANZ Stadium is also raising money through a February 16 concert with the “Fire Fight Australia” event including performances from local and international artists.
As firefighters continue battling the inferno, Prime Minister Morrison made it a point to urge the foreign tourists who would now be gathering on the beaches in Australia’s summer to keep their plans while local authorities continue urging evacuation of several coastal towns.
“Our industry is heartbroken by the devastation that the fires are causing around the country and our clubs and players have suggested a number of initiatives where we can support affected communities in the short and longer term as they deal with the aftermath of these fires,” AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said in a release. “A game of footy can’t change what has happened but it is a way for all of our clubs, our players and our fans to acknowledge the incredible sacrifice that so many have made in battling the fires and to support those communities that have been impacted by the bushfires.”
It is also a shining example of how IAVM member venues always stand at the ready whether as shelters or places where events can take place to help those in needy times.
By Lauren Polito
Levy Convention Centers and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) proudly partner with Green City Growers to cultivate and harvest the The Chef Garden. The Chef Garden is about 800 square feet and it provides fresh produce and herbs for Pine Street Inn. It is conveniently located at The Lawn On D, a 2.7-acre outdoor event and entertainment space next to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Throughout the 2019 season, over 500 pounds of fresh produce and herbs have been harvested and donated to the community.
Each Monday from May to November, Levy and Green City Growers harvest the Chef Garden. Depending on the time of year, there are always new herbs or vegetables available, a typical harvest includes basil, peppers, carrots, beans, bok choy, and so much more. In the last harvest of November 2019, the team harvested turnips, rosemary, and thyme. Each harvest is then donated to the Pine Street Inn.
“It’s an amazing experience to walk into a local food bank’s kitchen and see the chef’s eyes light up because they are receiving fresh, local, in season produce to incorporate into their meal,” said Director of Experience for Levy at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, William O’Brien. “It encourages them to experiment with new recipes and flavors that they don’t have the resources to provide.”
The Chef Garden is now prepared to weather the winter, and the Green City Growers team have planted garlic, which will be one of the first things to emerge in the spring, and harvested in the summer. Salt marsh hay protects the garden for the time being. With 2019 being the inaugural year for the garden, the groups are eager to continue to making an impact within the local Boston community. Looking forward to next season Levy and the MCCA are looking into doubling the harvest to provide over 1,000 pounds of produce in 2020. Brainstorming and research for next season has already begun, focusing on new combinations of produce and herbs that will bring the most fruitful harvest yet for many to enjoy throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
Lauren Polito is Associate Manager, Communications, for Levy Restaurants. Photo provided by Levy.
By R.V. Baugus
The news came across my phone as I was driving to lunch after church on Sunday, December 29: Two parishioners killed by gunman at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement (near Fort Worth).
Here we go again. It was barely more than two years ago when a madman fatally shot 26 people and wounded 20 others during a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, near San Antonio. The murderer managed to leave the church and drive away but crashed in a field and died from three gunshot wounds and a fourth shot that was self-inflicted.
The difference between the two shooting might have had a similar number of deaths – if not greater – had not multiple members of the church security team responded immediately to the shots. Jack Wilson, 71, a former reserve deputy sheriff and a firearms instructor, was the only person to fire back and killed the shooter with one shot.
This is not a piece on gun control or politics. It is a piece on vigilance, awareness, preparation, and response for when such occasions occur – and they do occur in a matter of when and not if.
Our Mark Herrera does an incredible job and spends exhaustive hours hopscotching the country to speak to venues about life safety, situational awareness, active shooters, and so much more. This is an unabashed plug to say that if you have not touched base with Mark and IAVM to discuss having him address your staff, please consider doing so now. Just click here.
Mark’s presentation is often heard by more than venue personnel as many also bring in government leaders, police, fire, first responders, and more to understand just how serious these issues are in our world today.
Even though it was late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve and because Mark and I are such dedicated employees (hey, cut us some slack!), we chatted by phone to discuss the sad event at the church and just to talk some more about faith-based organizations when it comes to the balance between security and welcoming people to worship.
“We must become more vigilant on behavioral detection than the traditional security measures in place to protect others,” Mark would share later by email after gathering his thoughts. “Understanding behavioral patterns of conduct not conducive to an environment that leads a prudent person to reasonably believe that the behavior is outside of the baseline is what we should focus on. This should be followed up by a plan or action that one must immediately take to assure their safety and the safety of others.
“Many in the world today are consumed with their daily lives to the point that they fail to be situationally aware. Technology has consumed our attention and the threat can identify with those not aware of their environment. A threat wants to succeed in carrying out a violent act and needs a path of least resistance. Knowing what to look for and responding immediately can deter and effect an individual’s desire and ability to carry out a violent act.”
Mark then shared some advice that he offers at his venue training classes.
“The important thing to do is practice visualization and mental preparation in advance to build upon scenarios with an immediate response to avoid loop reset or the ability to orientate to a condition that was never in the planning phase. “Hesitation and complacency in the world today are not options.”
Scary thoughts, huh? Hesitation and complacency. How many of us go anywhere where the public assembles and even give fleeting thought to what COULD happen? I raise my own hand as a guilty party to that question. We just don’t think it can happen, but it can, and it does, even in what we consider the most safe and sacred of places, our houses of worship.
“We must continue to look beyond the traditional security measures and equip others with the ability to increase observational capabilities,” Mark concluded. “Condition inoculation by actually being involved, if survived, equips others to better prepare for future situations similar to the one encountered. “Mental preparation and visualization with at least three response objectives will build upon the subconscious mind and allow an individual to immediately respond to crisis.
“It’s about being fully committed to any potential situation.”
As we sadly continue to see in a world of evil.
The Evansville-Vanderburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau announced the hiring of James “Jim” Wood as incoming president and CEO. An extensive nationwide search guided by an executive search firm and local committee was conducted in recruiting Wood.
“We were encouraged that through the national search process we were able to find someone with Jim’s experience and tenure in the industry,” said John Chaszar, CVB commission president. “Our CVB has seen Evansville’s occupancy and room rates grow over the last decade with a keen focus on youth sports, including investments at the Deaconess Sports Park and Goebel Soccer Complex. With the nearing completion of I-69 and recent Old National Events Plaza investments, the meeting and convention business is also poised to grow. We are confident that Jim will bring the energy, skills and knowledge necessary to keep our momentum moving forward for years to come. We look forward to Jim leading our team, with an anticipated start date of January 15, 2020.”
Wood comes to Evansville with extensive managerial and sales experience in the Louisville, Providence, Atlantic City, and Tampa markets, as well as with the Marriott hotels. Wood is well known in the industry and has been active with many trade organizations. He has exhibited skills of building consensus within a collaborative environment, as well as working from a strategic plan. Wood’s knowledge of events extends past hosting events, as he has also overseen the operations of destination businesses nationally, as well as in the Ohio River Valley.
“I want to thank the commission and the many community leaders whom I met during the selection process for putting the destination marketing of Evansville in my hands,” Wood said. “I am thrilled to be named president and CEO of the CVB. Evansville is a dynamic community that I am excited to use my skills and abilities to continue to grow the region on the strong foundation that is in place.
“I was particularly impressed with the community’s charming destination and finding it that is poised to grow. Evansville’s central location, convention and gaming facilities, its sports market, and position at Indiana’s third largest city make it a strong foundation for growth of the destination market. As well, continuing tourism industry growth boosts the community quality of life not just for visitors the tourism industry employs, but also for the region’s residents.”
By R.V. Baugus
Applications are being accepted through January 17, 2020, for the Venue Management School Diversity Scholarships. We encourage IAVM members to give a personal invitation to apply to a person in your network that could make all the difference in prompting someone to take the time to complete the application. This is one of the ways the Diversity & Inclusive Leadership Committee is working to ensure the future of IAVM is bright and the leadership of the organization reflects the diversity of our work forces.
The scholarships will be awarded by February 17 to the school in Tampa, Florida, that takes place from June 6-12.
The Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Committee will provide two Scholarships (One Year 1 and One Year 2) to VMS 2020, which will cover up to (2) two year commitments to applicants who meet the following criteria
Applicants must be American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA, or a person with disabilities.
Applicants must be a member of IAVM, or become a member before scholarship can be awarded.
Applications must be completed online and submitted no later than the deadline of January 17, 2020.
Recipients must be able and willing to attend Venue Management School for the year in which the scholarship is awarded.
Recipients must be willing to support the Foundation’s fundraising initiatives by providing testimonials, blogging about their experience and participating in speaking opportunities as an advocate for the Foundation as
The scholarship will cover both the 1st and 2nd year registration and housing ($,3500 maximum per year).
To apply, go here: https://iavm.formstack.com/forms/vms_diversity_scholarship