When Patrick Wilson got into the live industry about a decade ago, he didn’t expect to be connecting calls between A-list artists and members of the U.S. Congress.
“Never underestimate the efficacy of a well-timed phone call to a politician from their favorite musician,” said Wilson, head of artist relations at the National Independent Venue Association. “That was really an eye-opener for me.”
Like many in the business, the pandemic spurred Wilson, who is also talent booker at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey, to search for ways to help his industry persevere. After participating in calls about how independent venues should respond to the coronavirus crisis — the genesis of NIVA — he immediately jumped into the fray, building the fledgling organization’s website over Easter weekend.
“It was very clear to me that we needed our customers across the country to help us with this fight in Congress, and we needed Congress to help us get this bill passed,” he said. “But it was obvious that we needed our third leg in that stool, which was our artist community.”
With that need identified, Wilson set to work coordinating NIVA’s outreach to artists. As the organization pursued artists who could use social platforms to promote NIVA, it got creative — including contacting the tiny venues where performers started out. When NIVA needed to get in touch with Lady Gaga, it contacted the owner of Manhattan’s Bitter End, the 230-capacity Greenwich Village club where the pop star repeatedly performed before breaking big, who texted Gaga’s father.
“Ten minutes later, we had something from her,” Wilson said.
As the live industry restarts, Wilson will turn his focus to the 800-capacity White Eagle Hall, where he began working in early 2018.
“Jersey City and the surrounding New Jersey area has its own market and doesn’t really, for the most part, take from another show in New York or Brooklyn,” said Wilson, citing the viability of Prudential Center in nearby Newark. “We’re building our own market here.”
— Eric Renner Brown
“Patrick is a true gift who worked incessantly to Save Our Stages, all with great humor and herculean perseverance.”
— Audrey Fix Schaefer, Head of Communications, NIVA