(Photo Credit: Tenisha Bell/Perfect Pitch Media Group)
The Georgia Entertainment Caucus (GEC) was recently established and announced during a press conference on Jan. 24, held at the Georgia State Capitol.
The GEC is the solution to bridging the gap between politicians, entertainment professionals, and the community.
“It is now time that we stop only involving the entertainment industry when it’s time for an endorsement on a campaign,” said Erica Thomas, Georiga State Representative for District 39.
“It is time that Georgia recognizes the power and influence of thousands of singers, songwriters, producers, production teams, and every hard working Georgian, that has put Georgia on the map as one of the top places to do business in the entertainment industry.”
As a bipartisan caucus, the GEC is comprised of esteemed members of the Georgia House of Representatives, along with well-known figures in the entertainment industry.
Caucus members from the entertainment industry include Grammy Award-winning music producers, executives, singers and songwriters hand picked by co-founder Catherine Brewton, such as: Dallas Austin, Owner of Rowdy Records; Sean Garrett, songwriter/Super Producer; Ms. J., Founder of Free Wishes Foundation; Catherine Brewton, VP of Creative at BMI; Mitch Martin, Sr. Dir., Creative BMI Music; Ryan Wilson, Co-CEO, The Gathering Spot; Ray Daniels, Sr. VP, Warner Brothers; Chaka Zulu, Entrepreneur, CEO; Efe Ogbeni, Entrepreneur; Jason Carter, Founder, One Musicfest; and Kei Henderson, Management.
“When I met with Catherine Brewton she expressed to me that the entertainment world kind of feels left out of the issues of the government,” Thomas said. “I felt that in order to empower the entertainment industry we need to bring them in, and get them a seat at the table.”
One of the prime initiatives the GEC intends to act on first is to revamp and improve Atlanta’s Art and Entertainment District.
“The entertainment district is one of our initiatives that I’m putting together, where it’s kind of like Music Row in Nashville. All of the studios will be on one street,” Thomas said.
In their efforts to provide members of the entertainment industry more opportunities to record in the newly created ‘Music Row’ in Georgia, the studios will also be offered as a local attraction for tourist to explore.
“We also want to create a music museum. There are entertainers who have Grammys and plaques, and are willing to put inside the museum,” Thomas said.
“When people come from all over the country to see the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and College Football Hall of Fame, it’s going to be amazing for them to see a hall of fame dedicated to music.”
The GEC plans to follow the lead of the Dallas Austin Foundation, Inc., established in 2003 by fellow GEC member Dallas Austin, by providing additional music and film educational opportunities to Georgia youth.
“This is a way for us to connect with the community, and turn it into something positive. We will put more studios in Atlanta schools, so the kids can have the opportunity to flourish their music abilities,” Austin said.
According to Thomas, the foundation has already infiltrated 10 schools which GEC will use as a model for their initiative.
“Not only do we want to just put studios in, but put the people in place that can teach the kids all about music for free. We also want to have entertainers coming to schools and talking to the kids,” Thomas said.
“When we see members of the entertainment industry, we don’t know these are highly intelligent individuals who work very hard to achieve where they are. The kids need to understand that hard work gets you there.”
As the GEC strives to move forward with their initiatives, the caucus has committed to meet once a quarter to continue to bring together state representatives and the entertainment industry.
“We want to no longer be the Georgia that you start off, and then venture off into your career to another place like Los Angeles or New York,” Thomas said. “When I think about all the phenomenal people in the industry that came straight and grown from Georgia, I think of Ray Charles, James Brown, Outkast, and Little Richard just to name a few.”
“We want to make sure that Georgia is not just the place to start your dreams, but to live your dreams out.”