ESSENCE Communications Inc., the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women, announced an extended five-year partnership agreement with the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana to host its signature ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ through 2024. A platform to advance global Black culture, economic ownership and inclusion, and community development, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture has contributed more than $4 billion to the local economy since its inception. Now the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment and empowerment experience and the global epicenter of Black culture, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture has created a home for Black communities around the world and routinely attracts more than half a million international attendees over July 4th weekend – annually contributing more than a quarter billion dollars in economic impact to the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana.
To celebrate ESSENCE’s 50th Anniversary, the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola will be extended to five days for the first time ever and will run from July 1-5. The additional days will be curated with experiences and activations throughout New Orleans and Louisiana focused on advancing economic development, education and entrepreneurship.
“Our decision to remain in New Orleans, Louisiana was ultimately rooted in the landmark partnership that we have developed with the City and the State over the past 25 years and in our collective intentionality to bring even more depth to that relationship,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of ESSENCE Communications. “This includes working together more closely to perpetuate a stronger cycle of Community Commerce that will equip Black and women-owned businesses with the access, expertise and financial resources to transform their local communities and economies today – and elevate their global influence and opportunity tomorrow. This is the purpose and power of the nearly 50-year old ESSENCE brand and the 25-year-old ESSENCE Festival of Culture as much more than a magical moment each summer, but as a movement in continuous service to Black women and Black communities in New Orleans, in Louisiana, across the nation and around the world.”
The Festival continues to be the only-of-its-kind merging epic entertainment experiences with extensive daytime programming that intersect key cultural pillars including Arts, Entertainment, Music, Beauty, Fashion, Technology, Film, Food, Wellness, Advocacy, Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment.
“It is always great to be in the City of New Orleans with our Essence family as we cannot accomplish what we do alone, and it takes great leadership to bring about change and elevation,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This commitment was made possible by all of our partners, and we are excited to sign our new contract for another five years. It really is a privilege to be the Mayor of the City of New Orleans. We made history with electing the first female Mayor of the City and of course marking the 25th year of the Essence Festival of Culture. It has always been a part of me as a woman, and as an African American woman, something to be particularly proud of.”
In 2019, in response to its identification of a critical void of Black professionals prepared to bid on large-scale live events and technical production, ESSENCE partnered with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch “The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative” in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe. This ground-breaking effort – designed to increase the pool of women and Black professionals pursuing entrepreneurial business opportunities and careers in live events and technical production – will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development. It also includes an internship program for youth seeking careers in media, live production and more.
“I am excited to welcome ESSENCE back to New Orleans through 2024 and am proud for the state of Louisiana to continue its partnership with this iconic event,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “New Orleans is a place like no other in the entire world, making it the best backdrop for the unique experience of the ESSENCE Festival of Culture. This is an economic opportunity not just for the state and the city, but also for the entrepreneurs, business leaders and others who will broaden their networks and connections through the many events associated with the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.”
In 2019, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture launched several new curated daytime-and-nighttime experiences across Louisiana in more than 40 venues, including the ESSENCE Global Black Economic Forum™, ESSENCE Fashion House™, ESSENCE Wellness House™, and ESSENCE After Dark™. In addition, more than 80 artists performed at the Louisiana Superdome – headlined by Forever First Lady Michelle Obama – including Mary J. Blige, Nas, Missy Elliott, H.E.R., Big Freedia, Pharrell Williams and more.
The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is supported by a host committee comprised of the City of New Orleans; New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation; New Orleans & Company; Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association; New Orleans Multi-Cultural Tourism Network, Inc.; the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; and the State of Louisiana.
Sponsors for the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture include Coca-Cola and State Farm. The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is produced by ESSENCE Communications, Inc.
About Essence Communications, Inc.
Essence Communications, Inc. is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 20 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and live events, including Black Women in Music™, Black Women in Hollywood™, Beauty Carnival™ and the ESSENCE Festival of Culture™. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.