Melissa Richardson Banks of CauseConnect has produced numerous community festivals over the years, providing services such as event production, marketing, art and music curation, and sponsorship.
Downtown Dark Nights at L.A. Live (2014-2019). This series of 25 themed festivals were curated by CauseConnect and Edgar Varela for AEG Worldwide at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles. The free community art events were designed to attract and engage visitors to the entertainment multiplex on nights when its sporting and concert venues are dark, but its nearly 20 restaurants are open. Over the course of five years, 25 large-scale events were produced: Downtown Dark Nights plus the additional events of POPUP Marketplace, Round Up at L.A. LIVE, and Family Day Takeover. Each event attracted over 20,000 attendees.
Artopia for LA Weekly (2015): CauseConnect co-produced the artisan village for LA Weekly’s Artopia at The Container Yard in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. The 3rd annual festival showcased L.A.’s thriving art scene with interactive experiences, a mixology program, music, performance art, live painting, and more. Transformed into a wonderland designed to excite the senses, Artopia featured pop-up art galleries curated by art critic Shana Nys Dambrot for an amazing array of artists, including Drew Merritt, Wyatt Mills, Victor Wilde and his Bohemian Society, Debi Cable and her 3D Art Gallery, Mikael B. Design, Amy Kaps, and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario; music from activist-DJ Jeremy Sole of KCRW, and #FlowersOnYourHead, a performance-based photography project from Mud Baron. Guests sipped artistic cocktails by François Vera of Pour Vous and Ben Scott of Harlowe, enjoyed artfully crafted food from the Grilled Cheese and Kogi trucks, and shopped for creative wares in the artisan village, which was also co-produced by Edgar Varela.
Target Feria de la Familia at Plaza de la Raza (2006–2013): Attracting over 15,000 parents and kids each year, CauseConnect produced this annual art-and-music festival for Target Corporation at Plaza de la Raza. In addition to art activities, dance performances, and storytelling, the free community event featured music by Grammy Award-winning bands such as Ozomatli, Chicano Batman, and La Santa Cecilia.
BloomfestLA in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles (2011–2012): By securing sponsors for up-and-coming music talent that garnered KCRW’s promotional support and introducing an artisan vendor program, BloomfestLA was an art-and-music festival in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles that attracted over 25,000 attendees each year under the direction of Melissa Richardson Banks and Edgar Varela. Like the small gatherings that preceded it, this community festival commemorated Joel Bloom – a man respected for his advocacy – and was designed to inspire action, promote awareness, and drive dollars into the community, which it succeeded in achieving.
Abbot Kinney Festival (2008-2012): CauseConnect provided marketing, sponsorship and branding services for one of the most popular street fairs in California with over 150,000 attendees and more than 450 artisan vendors each year. The firm bolstered the festival’s existing sponsorship opportunities and identified new ways to generate revenue and promotional assistance from companies, which included a unique marketing partnership with Whole Foods Market (the grocer’s eco-friendly businesses received onsite sampling opportunities during the festival — and at the Venice store location, logo recognition on register signs, outdoor building banners, and store posters). Revenue-generating festival guides were stuffed into thousands of Whole Foods customer bags and distributed at local businesses before and during the event. On the mile-long stretch of Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California, the festival offers three music stages, two beer gardens, shopping, activities and performances for families in KidsQuad, and more.
Cuban Music Festival/Presencia Cubana en LA (2006–2009): CauseConnect was hired by the City of Los Angeles to help local communities enhance their annual celebrations and events. Over three years, Melissa Richardson Banks rebranded the Cuban Music Festival, introduced a corporate sponsorship program, and helped produce this popular community festival held annually in Echo Park of Los Angeles since 1994. The only major celebration of Cuban music and food in Los Angeles, it now attracts 25,000 attendees who enjoy its food court with Cuban specialties, a performance stage with a community dance floor, activities for seniors (dominoes and cubilete), children’s storytelling, family art activities, and vendor booths.
LA Kids Read Festival at Central Library (2000-2004): CauseConnect transformed this community event by raising first-ever corporate sponsorships and introducing marketing strategies that quadrupled attendance from previous years — growing from 5,000 attendees who attended prior festivals (1995-1999) to the venue’s capacity of more than 20,000 children and their families. The official kick-off for the citywide Summer Reading Club, this free festival for children and their families was held at the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library. Activities included puppet shows, live children’s theater, songs and stories for young children, and art workshops.