Social Entrepreneur and Producer at 1308 Productions, Allison Novack
Music and social activism fit together…perfectly. Apparently, Allison Novack, producer at 1308 Productions, agrees. Two years ago, Allison was named to Teen Voices’ and J-Vibe’s 18 Under 18 lists, and today, at 20, she continues to make a lot of noise for causes through her work.
Heart of Gold had the chance to interview Allison, and she spills the dirt on what she does, why she does it, and what it takes to be a passionate changemaker.
Heart of Gold: What is 1308 Productions?
Allison: 1308 Productions is a nonprofit organization that uses music as a vehicle to promote good causes and give to different benefits and charities. We put on different shows…most of them have been in the Miami beach area, and each show showcases a whole bunch of local bands. We put together these concerts open to the public and it will be like five dollars at the door and all of the proceeds will go to a certain cause or benefit. So, for example, before the 2008 presidential election, we did Rock the Vote—we had tables all over the place getting kids registered to vote. We’ve also had all the proceeds go towards the local schools in the area for their music programs, because when the economy went down, a lot of the arts and music programs at schools got cut.
Heart of Gold: Can you tell me about how you got into doing this?
Allison: I come from a small musical background. My grandfather used to perform in a band, he used to have his own band, my aunt is a singer, my brother was in multiple bands when he was in high school. And actually my brother started 1308 when he was in high school to put on concerts with the different local bands in the area. Then when he graduated and I came into high school, I kind of took it over and I put the whole charity spin on it, so all of the shows started becoming more geared towards the charities.
Heart of Gold: How did you know you wanted to give back when you took it over?
Allison: I was always very involved in my community. When I was little, I actually started something called the “Kids Club.” I was like ten years old or maybe younger when I started this. I arranged meetings for all the kids in the community to meet and we talked about what we wanted to happen in the community. For example, we decided we wanted a little water park area in the community pool area and we talked to the commissioners and we picked out which slides and water park things we wanted. So I don’t know…I always had it in me I guess.
Heart of Gold: Do you run 1308 fulltime?
Allison: No, I’m at the University of Miami majoring in PR and I also work at Hurricane Productions, which is the on-campus entertainment organization.
Heart of Gold: How do you juggle it all?
Allison: I try to put school first…it’s hard at times because I do get very busy. But I always have a to do list. I separate my school to do list and my work to do list and I am crossing things off all the time. So that’s kind of how I manage it. I take it one step at a time.
Heart of Gold: Who’s on your “team?” What kind of support system do you have to do it all?
Allison: My main support system when I started was definitely my family and my brother—I kind of just have a passion for the scene but my brother actually plays music. So he gave me a lot of insight into that. It was really hard because I often work with people who are a lot older than me. Like when we get the venues to put the shows on, I have to sit down with the owners of these venues. I started this when I was fourteen and I would have to talk to people who were my parents’ age. So my dad kind of coached me on how to deal with it and it did get scary sometimes to feel like I’m in the power position when I was only fourteen years old.
Heart of Gold: What great skills to have at that age, though!
Allison: Yeah, it definitely helps me for my major now… I’m doing communications.
Heart of Gold: Were there any big obstacles you had to deal with along the way?
Allison: I guess I didn’t realize the amount of detail that I would have to put into it. It comes down to everything from getting a venue, scoping out these artists, going through all of the lyrics to see if there’s any bad language in them, and talking to the lighting people and sound engineers. So it was really, really hard to get all the details down. A lot of times we’d have to get security or police at the door so we’d have to talk to the city managers. It was just a lot.
Heart of Gold: Is there a particular cause you love supporting most?
Allison: The one thing I really love to support is music and education with music. Like I said, music and arts is a lot of times the first thing that’s cut when schools are low on money. Also, after a hurricane hit Haiti, we got people to donate their used instruments and we gave them to children who were affected by the hurricane. So things like that really help because everybody always says that music is such a universal language. So giving an instrument to someone who’s never even had the experience of trying to play one is really awesome. For some reason my other passion is politics, so I’ve done a lot of things with that, like the Rock the Vote thing we did. We also did something when the war in Iraq was bigger news—we gave all the proceeds to the USO and the troops.
Heart of Gold: Have their been any mentors that have supported you along the way?
Allison: My aunt is a party planner / event planner / producer. She has her own company and I’ve worked with her since I was younger on her events. She does a lot of corporate and private events, so that’s really helped me. She’s mentored me a lot. And as for just communicating with all the people I needed to work with, my dad really helped me with that.
Heart of Gold: Do you have any words of advice for girls who want to create something big like 1308?
Allison: All of their crazy ideas can happen. It’s just a matter of doing it. And I think a lot of people are going to tell you it’s not going to happen and you’re not going to be able to do it. I always had people getting down on me because I was like this little girl and I was 10 or 14 years old when I was I was doing these things and I had these crazy ideas. You’re always going to be told that it’s not going to happen, but you have to just go straight to the people at the top, and you’ll make it happen.