I was playing with my three kids at 2:30PM on Monday afternoon. We were finally experiencing incredible weather, and on a long weekend no less! I glanced down at my phone about half hour later in between blowing bubbles and building block towers; it was filled with Twitter notifications. Something had occurred in Manchester involving Ariana Grande. The first link I saw read, “BREAKING NEWS”. I clicked on it and my heart stopped… another bombing at a concert. My first thought was to spread the news. In this social media crazed world we live in, sharing new information gets you the “likes” that you need to grow your page or accounts. But I didn’t. A conversation that I had with my social media manager the day I hired her rang in my ear and that was me explaining to her that I didn’t want our company spreading negative stories and/or news if it didn’t apply directly to us or our followers. I wanted our social media pages to focus more on the positive aspects and stories of this incredible industry we are so passionate about. She has done a phenomenal job abiding by that value, and we’ve watched our pages grow because of it. So, I quietly shut down my phone and kept playing with my kids… albeit distracted now knowing sheer terror was occurring in Manchester at that same moment.
It’s been two days since the bombing now, and our social media accounts have remained silent. Yet I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. Concerts are one of the most amazing experiences in life that I’m completely addicted to. It’s a common experience you share with hundreds or thousands of others who have the same taste in music as you do. I can’t help but think of the parents who lost their precious young children and the children who lost their parents on this night where the biggest concern should have been which songs Ariana was going to perform. I’ve run my phone battery dead scrolling through Twitter reading about what happened, being introduced to the victims, reading their stories, and in the more recent hours learning who is responsible for the attack and trying to figure out why? What did this accomplish?
I keep thinking back to November 13, 2015 as I’m sure a lot of people have done. I was producing an event that day when similarly to what happened on Monday, my phone started going off. I can’t describe the sickening feeling I got both times now knowing that this kind of terror is invading my sanctuaries; my special, safe places where I can lose myself in my passion for live entertainment and experiences. People don’t view buildings such as the Bataclan Theatre or Manchester Arena like I do. I see them as magical places. Venues that can make different dreams come true every single night. Stages that host a garage band that no one has ever heard about one night, and an award-winning, internationally acclaimed superstar the next. Theatres and Arenas that are inclusive and welcoming to anyone who appreciates the talent that is being showcased that specific night. Places that create incredible memories that will last forever. So, you can see now why this kind of attack really bothers me.
My personal mission statement is stolen/borrowed from Gandhi but I connected with the simple statement years ago when I first heard it and have tried to live by it ever since: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So, for the past two days I’ve been struggling with what to do, what to say and how to move on from this. See, along with my staff and volunteers, we’re working in venues like the Bataclan Theatre and Manchester Arena anywhere between four and seven days a week. I never want to feel hesitant about walking into a live event, I never want the magical feeling to go away. I never want horrific, terror-filled memories to invade the exhilarating, awe-inspiring ones.
So, I’m not going to let it! And I’m begging you do the same. I’m going to keep producing live events, and I beg you to keep attending them. I’m going to keep dreaming up new ideas and ways to alter your reality for a night, and I beg you to be brave enough to allow me that privilege. I’m going to continue training my staff and volunteers to be attentive to guests’ needs and desires, going the extra mile if possible and I beg you to continue trusting us that we have your best interests at heart. I’m going to smile and say hi to every child that walks into my events knowing that this may be their first concert, or an experience they will cherish forever, and I beg you to bring your children to live events and expose them to this phenomenal industry. I’m going to be more aware that life is precious and that its in these moment that makes us who we are, and I beg you to not live in fear as ultimately that is what these terrorists want us to do.
To the 22 families that lost loved ones this week in Manchester, I am so very sorry for your loss, especially because it occurred in what should have been a safe sanctuary filled with magical memories.
As I tuck my kids into bed tonight, squeezing them maybe a bit tighter than usual, I am determined to continue “being the change” and beg for you to be the same, so that maybe one day, hopefully soon, we will never have to fear this type of invasion and horrific act ever takes the stage again.