Nashville, TN – Bandit Lites chair and founder, Michael T. Strickland, was recently named as a recipient of the Pollstar 2021 Impact 50, the 50 most impactful people in Live Entertainment. Now in its third year, the list is assembled by the Pollstar editorial team with input from the industry and represents “individuals who embodied such attributes as creativity, innovation, strategic management, financial success, leadership, artist development and career longevity, vision, fan engagement, consistency and commitment to excellence.”
Strickland was named “The Congress Whisperer” as one of Pollsters Impact 50 “Engagers,” thanks to his relentless work to educate legislators about the plight of the live events industry due to COVID-19. The result of his and others work was the passage of the CARES Act, enhanced unemployment and PPP funding, Save Our Stages, and the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants.
A network of Senators and Congresspeople began with Senators Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander, and it expanded to over 70 different legislators for Strickland. Numerous trips were made to DC and other places to advance the cause for Live Event relief, culminating in testimony before the Senate on December 15, 2020. Strickland appeared on numerous television shows across major networks in 2020.
Along the way Strickland and others established We Make Events and delivered the September 1st #RedAlertRESTART with over 2,500 structures illuminated red in the US. This was the most visible effort to bring attention to the needs of the industry.
He then used his vast network of contacts to pivot to help with the COV-AID vaccine rollout, working with Michael Rapino, Coran Capshaw, Wayne Forte, Jay Marciano, Charlie Walker and Dayna Frank.
“We connected the live event industry with the COVID Task Force, the White House, the government, FEMA and the support services and venues nationwide,” Strickland told Pollstar. “I held regular conversations with the ten FEMA regional directors and others. This endeavor rolled into VAX4LIVE and VAX LIVE, both endeavors to encourage people to get vaccinated.”
As the industry moves towards a new normal, Strickland speaks to a future with a united live events PAC that has a focus putting the people first.
“Live Events must come together as one as The Entertainment Association, just like the Airline Association and the Restaurant Association,” Strickland said. “I was told from the start of my journey that live events were in the back of the line as we had no lobby and no PAC. We must work to change that in the coming year.”
Strickland sums up the past 15 months saying, “Pivoting from live events to lobbyist is quite a change. Overnight I traded rock stars for Senators. Along the way I have been blessed to have become friends with thousands of people in the industry I would never have met otherwise. The efforts, the dedication, and the focus of everyone in our great industry truly made a difference. Live Events helped shape legislation to assist our industry and others. We are still working on the last bill that will make the picture complete. I want to thank everyone that dedicated themselves to these endeavors over the last 15 months as they made it all happen. I sum it up with the adage: Rock’ N ’Roll Will Never Die!”
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
Bandit is a full-service design, management and producer of live events, theatrical productions, and live shows. Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of production needs. Bandit’s presence will ensure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you. More information available at www.BanditLites.com