FestForums®, the premier North American conference for festivals, announces that it has expanded its lineup of top-flight speakers for the eagerly anticipated three-day event to take place February 15-17, 2024 in Santa Barbara, CA at the newly renovated Mar Monte Hotel across from Santa Barbara’s East Beach.
Newly confirmed speakers include actor Alicia Silverstone, Bruce Flohr (VP of Red Light Management/Partner of ATO Records), John Boyle (Global Chief Content Officer at Official ASM Global), Anthony Maddox (Executive Producer MEDIA1010), Marta Pallares (Head of Press and PR for Primavera Sound in Barcelona), Signe Lardrup (CEO of Rosklide Festival Group in Denmark), Josh Bernstein (President and Co-Owner of Z2 Comics), Dianne Copeland (CEO of Copeland Entertainment), Mix Master Mike (Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted DJ), Jed Weitzman (Head of Music at Logitix), Jose Montano (CEO of Ascending 7 Productions) and Evan Saxon (President & Head of International Distribution at Abramorama).
“I’m thrilled and honored to have so many brilliant and talented people join our array of speakers,” says FestForums® founder and owner Laurie Kirby. “Ever since we started FestForums®, it’s been all about the people. They come from all points of the festival industry – music, film, food and wine festivals. It’s so exciting to see everybody mixing and mingling, and they get to do it all in the gorgeous seaside city of Santa Barbara. Who can beat that?”
She adds, “It’s gratifying when I hear people tell me each year how much they learn, and they’re having so much fun at the same time. New ideas and trends are explored by our speakers, and the panels get lively. Of course, the celebrity keynote addresses are always fascinating. And at the end of the day, that’s when the parties start. It’s a symphony of creativity at FestForums® with the biggest names in the festival world at the helm.”
Alicia Silverstone will also be on hand to present acclaimed director Marty Callner with the FestForums® Living Legend Award. “I adore Marty Callner!” Silverstone says. “I was part of his Aerosmith trilogy for which he garnered so much recognition from MTV and others. I am happy to be presenting Marty with a well-deserved Living Legend Award at FestForums® in February.”
During the presentation, Callner will be interviewed by comic Dane Cook. “Marty Callner has set the standard for what a live comedy special is, and we’ve created three incredible specials together: Vicious Circle Isolated Incident and Above It All,” Cook says. “As a director and as a person, he is truly deserving of the FestForums® Living Legends Award, and I am honored to be a part of the weekend.”
Panels at this year’s FestForums® include topics such as sustainability, ticketing, technology, sponsorship, safety, wellness, operations and more. Last year, FestForums® focused on the issue of mental health with honoree Congressman Jamie Raskin. This year, the event will explore diversity in the festival industry.
Moderators and panelists will include Anthony Maddox, J. Kevin Swain (Emmy and Grammy-nominated Director and Producer), CJ Milan (Founder and CEO of Reggae Fest and Epic League Entertainment), Dina Samson (Co-Founder and Owner of Rossoblue, Superfine Playa, and Superfine Pizza in Los Angeles) and Irene Soriano (Film Programmer at Sundance Institute).
“I feel that the issue of diversity is at the core of FestForums® as both a topic and in its array of speakers,” Kirby says. “At the various events I spoke at throughout 2023, the theme kept emerging. As our population grows, minorities are taking a larger role in the festival industry, which is ironic given the time we’re in, when the fear of ‘the other’ has become so dominant in our culture. It’s important for everybody involved in our industry to understand the cultures and communities they serve and provide content that speaks to those audiences.”
Kirby adds, “And I’m thrilled to say that at FestForums® I consciously strive to have people of all backgrounds – black, brown, Asian, Hispanic and equal parts men and women speaking and attending. I’m very thoughtful about being inclusive of what our world looks like.”
A full list of this year’s FestForums® speakers can be found here.
Registration for the conference and tickets for all events can be found at the FestForums® website.
FestForums® is a festival conference for food, beverage, wellness, music and film festival industry leaders that takes place annually in Santa Barbara, CA. Showcasing cutting-edge technology, talent, ticketing, sponsorships, scheduling, merchandising, operations, sustainability, charitable work, innovation, and safety, FestForums brings together festivals and events of all sizes for collaboration and professional development.
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