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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Manager hired for town’s performance center
Gary Jackson of Wirtz is a veteran concert promoter and venue developer
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: Rocky Mount Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins, right, introduces Gary Jackson at a press conference Monday at the farmers’ market. Jackson is the new promoter and manager of the Harvester Performance Center.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Town of Rocky Mount has selected a music industry veteran promoter and manager to lead the development of its new Harvester Performance Center.

Gary Jackson of Wirtz, a longtime performance venue developer and concert promoter, will lead the start up of the Harvester Performance Center, the town's new civic and performance center opening in spring of 2014.

Jackson, 62, most recently developed and managed Kirk Avenue Music Hall, a 130-seat venue that has spawned new development in downtown Roanoke, according to Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins. Prior to moving to Roanoke, Jackson was at the helm of Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria.

"Gary demonstrated tremendous knowledge earned from a lifetime of developing successful new venues which go on to create additional growth in their communities," said Hankins. "This venue will change Rocky Mount's economy, serving as an anchor for new growth and investment. The Harvester deserves -- and now has -- a manager with deep contacts throughout the music industry and a demonstrated history of success."

"Gary Jackson brings over 40 years of music industry experience to Rocky Mount, along with an enthusiasm to help create jobs, expand opportunity and create a unique regional cultural destination," Hankins added.

Jackson started work May 20 and is working now to book shows a year in advance of the anticipated opening, Hankins said. In addition to booking acts, Jackson will work with the contractor to ensure renovations meet the needs of the facility, will set up ticketing, a website and social media presence for the venue, develop merchandise and solicit vendors, and grow sponsorships of events.

"I can't wait to unveil the lineup of artists for Harvester," Jackson said. "I know the importance of this effort to the town, the town council and the region, and I look forward to creating a great space where artists and music lovers meet, where the community gathers for events and where the economy grows based on dynamic activity."

The community can expect Jackson to not only work to bring in outstanding artists but to help nearby businesses grow and develop, Hankins said.

"I have seen the power music has to transform a community, attract new growth and create a stronger sense of place," Jackson said. "The mix of local, regional and national artists who perform here will draw crowds to Rocky Mount and bring in investors willing to create dining, shopping opportunities and jobs demanded by local residents."

Jackson has worked with a who's who of musicians over a lifetime in the music business, from national acts like The Band Perry, Allison Krauss & Union Station, 10,000 Maniacs, Emmylou Harris and many others to local grassroots acts just getting started.

"I have presented well over 10,000 concerts in my life in music and look forward to spending many nights here as Rocky Mount's stage comes to life," Jackson said. "As the Harvester's success builds, its reputation will grow and satisfied patrons and artists will spread the word about this great place we're developing, returning over and over with friends in tow."

Jackson will continue booking shows for Kirk Avenue Music Hall for the foreseeable future as he fulfills his duties for the Town of Rocky Mount.

"As a 400-seat venue, Harvester Performance Center will fill a regional need for mid-sized performance venues," Hankins said. "We see the opportunity to complement the activities at the Jefferson Center, Kirk Avenue, Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre, Lyric and the other great venues for live music in our region. We look forward to seeing what Gary Jackson and a whole host of talented artists can do for our economy."

The Harvester Performance Center is funded in parts by the town, historic property tax credits and private grants and gifts. The $2.2 million renovation project got under way June 3, and construction is expected to be complete for concerts to start in the spring of 2014.

The venue will host a variety of acts, primarily concentrating on a wide variety of music, with occasional comedy, dramatic performances, dance and other cultural events.

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