Written by X107.5 Las Vegas Radio. Check out the original article here
While the headlines leading up to the seventh annual Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival have largely focused on its head-turning lineup of performers – Chance the Rapper, Post Malone, and Billie Eilish, among others – there is a movement happening behind the scenes that will make this year’s event more significant than many fans realize.
Life is Beautiful is all about the greater good.
“We really lean into trying to find ways to have a direct impact, using the resources that we have, on the city and the world around us,” explains Life is Beautiful Chief Executive Officer Justin Weniger, who has been forming behind-the-scenes partnerships with artists, nonprofit organizations, and charities that stretch the benefits of the festival beyond its borders.
Designing a New Downtown
Since the beginning, public art has been a cornerstone of Life is Beautiful. Every year, thousands of fans walk the festival’s 18 city blocks, admiring its building-sized murals and sidewalk sculptures. Public art, as Weniger explains, has helped transform people’s perspective of Las Vegas.
“The more art we put up, the more crime goes down,” he says. “The more walkability exists, the more you see people pushing strollers through downtown.
“That was unthinkable six years ago.”
For the festival’s seventh incarnation, Life is Beautiful has partnered with the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, donating funds that will be used to create more public art in the city while supporting education initiatives for Las Vegas youth.
It’s part of Life Is Beautiful’s overall mission to “turn the city into this almost idealistic version of what it could be,” explains Weniger.
“Like, imagine a world where we just had music in the streets all the time and artists from around the world painting murals and people sharing ideas,” he adds.
A Headliner for Social Justice
Arguably, Life Is Beautiful’s biggest headliner is also one of its most philanthropic – something the festival is taking advantage of as Chance the Rapper returns for a third time.
Weniger says Life is Beautiful is working to bring two programs from Chance the Rapper’s SocialWorks nonprofit to Las Vegas. The first, OpenMike, was created as a series of free monthly events for teens in Chicago; and the second program, My State of Mind, serves to raise awareness about mental health services in the community. Weniger says OpenMike and My State of Mind details will be announced closer to the festival, and attendees can expect to find more information during Life is Beautiful.
“He just stands for so much more,” Weniger says of the artist. “When you see the work that he’s done in his community, you see what it’s meant to him, and how much he’s given back to the people that have mentored him and helped him out; [you] want to now do the same thing for people in [your] community.”
Progress You Can Point To
One element of philanthropy and activism that Life is Beautiful fans will get to experience up close this year is the result of a partnership between the festival and environmental action group Sierra Club.
“We’re going to be doing a big interactive art exhibit in the middle of the festival that is really going to blow people’s minds,” Weniger says. “The goal around that is we’re just going to show people, ultimately, this is what we’re protecting, right?
“And here’s that little action that you can take every day that will help protect that.”
The goal of all three initiatives, Weniger adds, is not to take sides in a political debate, but rather inspire Life is Beautiful attendees to take a larger interest in the communities where they live.
“If we can be a bit of a positive beacon, if we could use music and art and culture to inject that in the foundation of a community and see what grows from within that, then we’ve done something meaningful with our platform,” he says.
Life is Beautiful will be held September 20, 21, and 22 in Downtown Las Vegas. Tickets can be purchased via the festival’s website.