Virgin Mobile Freefest has graced Baltimore’s Merriweather Post Pavilion for the past five years and has made a name for itself by booking a lot of indie’s biggest acts, but more importantly, it’s been notable because it’s done so while being completely free. The fest has been a part of the area even longer, having started back in 2006 (at which point you had to pay to get in). According to a statement issued by Virgin, the festival will not be returning this year. Instead, the company will be making a donation directly to local homeless shelter the Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House, rather than giving the proceeds to the charity after the event. “The Freefest was this fantastic product of a crossroads of [Virgin Group founder Richard] Branson and some very creative people at Virgin. The mixture got shaken up every year, and it always settled at the last possible moment for that year. That was part of the spontaneous magic that everyone could pick up on I think,” festival producer Seth Hurwitz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the pieces are not all there right now with Virgin. Whether they are again who knows. But the Freefest concept is fantastic and we are exploring options to continue it at Merriweather.” Read the full statement from Virgin below.
Virgin Mobile FreeFest, the signature award-winning music festival created by Virgin Mobile USA, will not return this year. We’ll be making a difference, in a different way. The festival has been held for eight years – with the last five at Merriweather Pavilion in Maryland as a free benefit to support homeless youth. FreeFest has been noted for its wonderfully eclectic mix of emerging and established indie rock, hip-hop and EDM artists, boasting line-ups that included Skrillex, M.I.A., Vampire Weekend, Nas, Ludacris, Santigold, Black Keys and many more.
Instead, Virgin Mobile will continue its tradition of helping make a difference and support the youth homelessness cause by making a significant donation directly to the Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House in honor of National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, established by Virgin Mobile USA in November 2007.
Virgin Mobile Music Festival began in 2006 and became a free one-day concert in the midst of the 2009 recession as many bands were cancelling U.S. tours and consumers were having trouble affording leisure activities. Virgin Mobile wanted to create something positive for its customers, music fans and the community in the face of so much economic turmoil and give back. Instead of asking people to pay for another music event, Virgin Mobile asked people to donate time and money to help in the fight against youth homelessness. As a result, the Virgin Mobile FREE.I.P. program was launched to award concert tickets in exchange for volunteer hours and in-kind donations to support the RE*Generation program to help homeless youth.
Since FreeFest’s inception, the public’s efforts have raised more than 75,000 volunteer hours, over 30,000 in-kind donations and more than 1 million dollars for RE*Generation non-profit partners. The most significant accomplishment by far was underwriting the construction of a new transitional living facility for youth, The Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House by Virgin Mobile, located in Washington D.C. The home opened in December 2012 and currently houses eight young people between the ages of 18-22. The House provides safe shelter but also educational and mentorship support and programs to teach young people about entrepreneurship and urban farming.
(via The Washington Post)
[Photo by Luis Ruiz/Stereogum.]