One of the highlights of our Community’s year is Out! Raleigh. Since our first event in 2011, the LGBT Center of Raleigh has relied on the expertise of Deep South Entertainment to make it run smoothly. We recognize Amy Cox, Out! Raleigh Event Manager, and Dave Rose, Co-Founder of Deep South, because of their deep commitment to making Raleigh’s biggest LGBT street festival even bigger and better every year.
Deep South Entertainment is a Raleigh-based artist management and concert event production company that began in 1995. Over the years the company has represented such national legends as Bruce Hornsby, Little Feat, Vienna Teng, Parmalee, Stryper, Marcy Playground, and many more. They also operate Deep South The Bar, a live music venue located in downtown Raleigh and many industry-related businesses.
That’s how they became acquainted with the LGBT Center of Raleigh. They were a close neighbor of the infant Center when we were located on Cabarrus Street. When a group of four Center volunteers wanted to do something special in Raleigh, Amy and Dave offered to help produce an event. Deep South Entertainment already had experience with street festivals and knew how to acquire all the city permits needed, had access to many of the best LGBTQA bands, and had the staff to carry out all the logistics.
Rusty Sutton, one of the volunteer organizers at that first meeting, remembers Dave and Amy’s enthusiasm at that first meeting. “From the very beginning, Dave and Amy were excited for us and wanted Out! Raleigh to happen. They caught our vision quickly and helped make it appeal to as many people as possible.” Rusty adds, “I don’t think we could have found anyone as committed to us and Amy and Dave were.”
That first Out! Raleigh in 2011 attracted more than 6,000 people in our Community to the newly reopened Fayetteville Street.
As a student at NC State University, Amy Cox got involved in the theater program and met several out members of our community, including Jonathan Warnock. “Jonathan was the chair of the entertainment committee for the Union Activities Board during my freshman orientation,” Amy says. “I didn’t know he was gay at the time, but he was heavily involved in theater. He was captivating and enthusiastic about his student activities, and we became really good friends. That was my first introduction to the Community.” She goes on, “When the Center opened a few steps away from Deep South The Bar” – in a neighborhood that badly needed some excitement – “that sealed our relationship.”
“Our company wouldn’t do an event for just anyone who knocks on our door,” explains Dave Rose. “But this is an event for the community. The LGBT Center had (and still does have) an exciting vision for this event coupled with a large group of great people excited to see that it succeeds. Music has a way of bringing everyone together, and Out! Raleigh is a good example of that…. What I liked about it was that Out! Raleigh didn’t exclude anyone and it is particularly friendly for families.”
Amy adds, “Out! Raleigh shows a different view of LGBT culture overall. The community is a lot more than gay guys going to gay bars. People live and work in major companies and have many different interests. Out! Raleigh brings together diverse culture, art, and good health. We like that.”
Rusty Sutton agrees, “Calling the event ‘Out! Raleigh’ allowed us to invite the whole city of Raleigh to come out to our Festival and was particularly inviting to our Allies. That’s why Out! Raleigh has grown so much so quickly. The entire city embraced us without any push-back.”
Dave and Amy help manage Out! Raleigh for a fraction of the fee that they would have to charge other organizations for similar street festivals. But they give even more to our Community. The LGBT Center of Raleigh is the non-profit partner for Oak City 7 – Pickin’ in the Plaza, a series of 14 free, outdoor concert festivals featuring North Carolina artists that take place every Thursday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
As for Out! Raleigh, it continues to grow. This year’s festival attracted more than 50,000 people, and Deep South Entertainment is already helping the Center plan for a bigger and better festival for May 6, 2017.
“We feel like we should be the ones thanking the Center for allowing us to help in this effort,” says Dave and Amy in unison, “not the other way around. We are very grateful to be a part of the Boots-on-the-Ground work of the LGBT Center of Raleigh.”
The LGBT Center of Raleigh is very pleased that Deep South Entertainment is our Organization of the Year for 2016. The Award will be presented to them at the LGBT Center’s Annual Awards Gala on Friday, October 7th, 2016 as a part of our celebration of National Coming Out Week.
Come help us honor them at the Gala. Tickets are available.