About a month back, out of the blue, Levi's announced they would be holding a 3 night concert series to benefit the town of Braddock. The event features many popular indie acts including Built to Spill, The Hold Steady, Andrew Bird among others. This isn't the first time Levi's has brought attention to the struggling town. They featured several television commercials with its media savvy mayor, John Fetterman, donating 1.5m to his non profit organization. With this benefit show Levi's began a new direction of support by placing the concert series directly in Braddock, attempting to bring people into the town who otherwise wouldn't travel there. The concert series will also be streamed to feature the story for those around the world. We were able to speak with Levi's representative Christian Parkes about the benefit, why Braddock and what they hope to accomplish.
First, how did this event come about? I know levi’s has been helping raise funds for the town of Braddock. Why a concert series?
We wanted to build a program that would work on multiple levels. Obviously, we wanted to raise funds for the town, but we also wanted to bring people to Braddock who may never go there. We also wanted to create a model that could be sustainable for years to come. From a Levi's standpoint, music has always been important to us and with the carnegie library having this incredible music hall, the script really just wrote itself.
Why were these ‘indie’ acts chosen (and not hard rock, jazz, metal, etc)? What was the driving force to pick these groups?
While we're working with bands that we love, we were also deliberate in selecting artists that will fill the library; the more tickets we sell, the more money that goes to Braddock. For this first benefit, we wanted to make sure it would be a success. It's also important to note that these artists are supportive of our efforts and what we're collectively trying to do in Braddock.
How did the collaboration between Levi’s and the city of Braddock come about? Why was this particular town chosen?
Braddock represents a new frontier town in the us today, no one truly knows whether it will shine like the diamond it once was. But that's not going to stop people from trying. In this context, mayor fetterman is very much a pioneer in the work he's undertaking and the change he's influencing. We've carried the principles of pioneering close to our chest since Levi strauss first went west in the 1870's.
Levi’s has already donated over $1.5m to Braddock’s mayor John Fetterman and his non profit organization. Where will this contribution be aimed towards?
Levi's has invested in several community based projects over the past 12 months; the urban farm, nyia page community center, carnegie library, public park. The proceeds from these shows will continue to support programs intentended to better the standard of living for residents in Braddock. The carnegie library will be the single, biggest benefactor of these shows. But we also know we can't do this alone... Before we announced Braddock benefit, we released funds that unlocked a grant from allegheny county to install cctv to help eliminate crime in the town.
Are there plans to hold more concert benefits for the town? Or other events?
We'd love to, and assuming this first venture is a success, who knows what's next.
How long does Levi’s plan to partner with the town of Braddock? Some large strives have been made in reengineering the town. Is there a 5-10 year plan?
In a ideal world, a proud town like Braddock wouldn't need the support of an apparel company, the hope is that it's self sufficient and thriving. What happens next to Braddock is still to be written but i can say that Mayor Fetterman and the residents of Braddock have been great partners from the very first conversation. These are relationships we want to keep building upon.
Braddock was featured in several Levi’s ad campaigns in the past. Will this concert series also be featured to help promote the town?
We'd like to think that every time we talk about Braddock it's helping to promote the town. In addition to the positive pr, we will also be streaming these concerts online, giving us the opportunity to share the story with millions of people all over the world. The hope is that the viewers are compelled to help Braddock, or a 'Braddock' where they live.
The concert series will commence on November 11th and finish on November 13th. Tickets are $25 each and can be found here.