NIVA Names Stephen Parker New Executive Director – Billboard
Written by GRB on 11/01/2023
The National Independent Venue Association has announced music policy advocate Stephen Parker as its new executive director. Parker will take over the position from Rev. Moose, who previously served as NIVA and National Independent Venue Foundation founding executive director. NIVA announced in August that they would begin the search to fill both of Rev. Moose’s positions, so he could focus on his creative marketing firm, Marauder.
Parker has served as an advisor and consultant at the Country Music Association, senior special assistant to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, senior policy advisor at the National Guard, and, most recently, as vp of public affairs and communications at gener8tor, an organization focused on entrepreneurship and the creative economy. Parker serves on several non-profit boards, including the Country Music Association Foundation board of directors.
Parker tells Billboard that he greatly admired NIVA for their work since they were founded in 2020 to help independent music venues survive through the pandemic, calling the association the most successful lobbyists in the country in 2020. That year, NIVA successfully advocated for $16 billion in federal funds through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
“I ultimately came upon this job by talking to different members at the conference that they had in July of last year (NIVA ‘22), but also just from knowing independent venue owners, board members, different staff members of NIVA,” says Parker. “This [association] is the crown jewel of anybody who cares about public policy, and in music, and art and live entertainment and comedy. There is no place like it. This organization is built on advocacy. And for me with my political background, it was an incredible fit. I feel honored and humbled every day that they chose me.”
In his new role, Parker will be tasked with continuing to grow the association’s numbers and advocate for NIVA members at the federal and state level. One of Parker’s first missions is to advocate for fans who are being impacted by deceptive ticketing practices, including speculative ticketing — where ticket resellers post tickets on secondary sites like StubHub or Viagogo before those tickets even go on sale. Additionally, Parker says some state and local governments still have remaining pandemic relief funds from the federal government that can continue helping independent venues that have not fully recovered from the mass gathering shutdowns and customers hesitancy to return to live events.
Advocacy, he adds, could also come in the form of getting NIVA members elected to local government positions. “We have so many members that want to do something and want to continue to push things forward when it comes to advocacy,” says Parker. “Making sure that they have toolkits and resources to make their voices heard for the communities that they live in is a huge priority for me.”
“We look forward with immense optimism to NIVA’s next crucial chapter of growth and development to best serve members who fight tirelessly to improve their communities, workplaces and entertainment experiences,” said NIVA board president Dayna Frank in a statement. “With Stephen’s leadership, energy, and enthusiasm we are in the best possible hands. His experience with advocacy and relationship development in a longtime-successful association will ensure we flourish together today, tomorrow and in the future. We’re so lucky to have his determination and expertise.”
In addition to advocacy, Parker’s role will be to strengthen the association itself. NIVA intends to expand their healthcare coverage for members and their local venue workers, organize venues for purchasing power on common goods and continue to develop educational programs for members on sustainability, DEI practices and more. In recent months, NIVA has announced partnerships with voter registration non-profit Headcount and r.Cup, a sustainable platform providing reusable cups to eliminate single-use plastic.
“Growth for growth’s sake, is never good, but growth to make sure that we can continue to serve our members better, that we can continue to make a case to new members to join our organization and so we can continue to do the work and the services to make sure our venues can survive and thrive, that’s the reason for growth. And that’s what we’re looking at,” says Parker.