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Virgin Mobile FreeFest Pays It Forward For 2nd Year

05:01 PM Monday 10/11/10 |   |

The final tallies are in and the 2010 installment of the Virgin Mobile FreeFest drew some 40,000 attendees, racked up nearly 25,000 volunteer hours and $200,000 in cash donations to homeless youth charities.

  • M.I.A.

    Performing at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.
    September 25, 2010

    (John Davisson)

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The Sept. 25 festival, an extension of the global Virgin-branded festivals but staged free to fans at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., saw its donations more than double in just its second year with a volunteerism focus.

Cash donations shattered last year’s total of $80,000, according to a Virgin Mobile FreeFest spokeswoman. And a lineup that included Ludacris, LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Pavement, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, The Temper Trap and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, among others, promised a good time was had by all.

  • Pavement

    Virgin Mobile FreeFest, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Md.
    September 25, 2010

    (John Davisson)

    | 

Ron Faris, Virgin Mobile’s director of brand experience, told Pollstar the company and its partners decided to stage a second free festival in part because of the mixed signals about the ending of the Great Recession – while it may have ended for some, it is still putting pressure on many others.

“There’s people on both sides saying that the recession’s abated and others saying we’re still in one and it’s just as bad,” Faris told Pollstar. “We felt we should extend the karma and give people a day. If you’re out of the recession, great; but most importantly, take a break from your woes and your drama, and have a great day on us.”

As was the case with last year’s inaugural FreeFest, a team of partners helped cover the cost of talent, production, promotion and everything else that goes into an event of this size. Kyocera, Toyota, American Express and Converse are but a few of the returning partners joining in to “make free ring.”

Merriweather Post Pavilion and its crew, including promoters Seth Hurwitz and I.M.P., are critical partners as well, booking talent that is “phenomenal and youthful – it feels right,” Faris said.

Music lovers who weren’t able to attend – or who want to relive the experience – can check out streaming “Freefest Sessions” audio at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest website. There’s also an 18-minute “mashup” of festival artists for a $5 donation to youth homelessness charities. And soon there will be a webcast of the festival, Faris promises.

“We could not have done a free festival without our partners chipping in and supporting it,” Faris said. “And the fans are part of it, too. Everyone loves a free show, but we wanted to make this not just a day on us but also a reminder to kind of think of those less fortunate.

“Youth homelessness being core to Virgin Mobile made it necessary to us to say, ‘We’ll give you good karma if you shower good karma on someone who is less fortunate.’ That’s been behind it. The free show, this year, has become more symbolic of everybody taking the time to enjoy the day on us and also give back.”

  • Joan Jett

    Virgin Mobile FreeFest, Merriweather Post Pavilion,Columbia, Md.
    September 25, 2010

    (John Davisson)

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Click here for the Virgin Mobile FreeFest website.


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