Seattle Culture

Breaking Into The Entertainment Industry, The Bumbershoot Way

Workforce program focuses on concert promotion and production

By Rob Smith May 3, 2024

Group of people in the entertainment industry engaging with audio equipment in a dimly lit studio, focusing intently on the screen and controls.

The future of the entertainment industry is alive and well in Seattle this summer.

For the second consecutive year, the Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival’s Workforce Development Program will teach young adults the ins and outs of the entertainment business. The six-month, tuition-free program provides mentorship and teaches the “technical, creative and business aspects” of the live entertainment industry to 19 young adults between the ages of 17 and 25.

Group of teenagers standing on a stage with a "Bumbershoot program orientation" banner in the background at an event.

Meet the future of music: The 2024 cohort of Bumbershoot’s Workforce Development Program.

Photo courtesy of Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival

A key goal is to open opportunities in the entertainment industry to underserved communities. Fifty-eight percent of the cohort identifies as BIPOC, and 37% identify as LGBTQIA+. 

“Ten years from now, our dream is that Bumbershoot will be completely staffed and run by talented young leaders like the graduates from our Workforce Development Program,” says Christina Holding, marketing director at New Rising Sun, which produces the festival.

The program features workshop and job shadowing. Participants are also assigned distinct roles in this year’s festival, which runs Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at Seattle Center. Bumbershoot officials will also work to find jobs for participants in the live-event industry once the festival ends.

Last year, 80% of cohort participants landed either part-time or regular gig work in local event production and creative industries.

The live concert industry, and the arts in general, really need reliable, skilled workers right now,” says Aaron Semer, development director at Third Stone, a Seattle nonprofit that houses the festival’s education program and runs the main festival. “We get to be the people opening those doors.”

The program is a partnership between Bumbershoot and Berkeley, Calif.-based UC Theatre’s Concert Careers Pathway program.

Follow Us

Trailblazing Women: Lynne Varner

Trailblazing Women: Lynne Varner

CEO, Washington STEM

I don’t see myself as a trailblazer. Instead, call me a trail runner nimbly following paths laid by so many brilliant, amazing women who came before me. Some of those women are mentors who showed me not just who I could be, but how I could be. We tell young people...

Double Victory

Double Victory

Ballard High cheer notches National Championships

Visit Seattle’s Ballard High School, and you can’t help but notice the championship banners hanging from the gymnasium rafters...

Trailblazing Women: Merrie Williamson

Trailblazing Women: Merrie Williamson

Executive Vice President, Chief Customer And Revenue Officer, Equinix

I’ve been in the technology industry for more than 25 years. I’ve had an incredible career journey taking me from building microchips in a silicon manufacturing plant for Intel, to the big stage recently with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella speaking to developers at this big AI moment. Along the way I have been asked...

Trailblazing Women: Tahmina Watson

Trailblazing Women: Tahmina Watson

Founder, Watson Immigration Law

I am a servant leader who leads with love. It has taken four decades to know this about myself. And now I am unapologetically loving to everyone. My journey to this realization was paved by my dedication as an immigration lawyer, a profession where compassion is a key ingredient. Yet, being a lawyer and running