New Asheville festival and conference aims to connect creatives


New Asheville festival and conference aims to connect creatives

Jessica Tomasin, a pillar of Asheville's music scene in her role as studio manager of the renowned Echo Mountain Studios, is also a crack events organizer who has just announced a new Asheville conference and festival for April. The event reminds me of HATCH Asheville, a networking and creativity festival that ran from 2009 to 2011. This looks like a stellar event. Tickets are on sale now.

Here's the full press release:

Connect: Beyond the Page is thrilled to announce its first annual event taking place in venues throughout downtown Asheville, NC on April 20-22, 2018. The festival and conference aims to bridge creative disciplines, bringing together musicians, writers, filmmakers, media personalities and activists to unearth the myriad of ways in which art inspires us. The 3-day event boasts an eclectic lineup of panels, speakers and performances. Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concert; award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond; cellist and activist Ben Sollee; author and conservationist Jay Erskine Leutze; and musician and film producer Johnny Irion are among just some of the esteemed creatives to contribute their voices and insights. A current list of announced participants and speakers is below, with more names to be announced soon.

A diverse selection of speakers and panelists ensures a worthwhile festival experience for attendees with a broad range of backgrounds and interests. Discussions will touch on the creative process, the business of getting one’s art out into the world, the intersection of art and activism, and more. Friday evening will feature a live interview and performance series hosted by NPR host and author of Your Song Changed My Life, Bob Boilen. Saturday evening will be capped by multiple live music performances highlighting songs born from calls to action for social justice.

“It’s more than an event,” says festival founder Jessica Tomasin, “Connect: Beyond The Page is a movement that brings creators and attendees together to engage in thought-provoking ways.” It’s no coincidence that the event is set in Asheville, a fast-growing city nestled in the Appalachian mountains with a reputation for putting out innovative music and art. “Asheville is a great place for Connect: Beyond the Page to call home,” says Tomasin.

“It is the creative epicenter of Western North Carolina with a community of residents who are passionate and vocal about social change and justice.”

Tomasin herself is a big player in the music scene. She is the studio manager for the renowned Echo Mountain Recording Studios and the executive director of Asheville Music Professionals.

Panels are intentionally comprised of speakers from various fields, emphasizing the underlying belief of the festival: creatives have the opportunity to inspire action that can ignite social change. Panelists will discuss topics ranging from the art of pitching, to how artists can best speak out on social justice issues. In a panel titled “The Art of Adaptation,” panelists will explore how artists can translate their work across genres, while maintaining the integrity of the story.


Kicking off Connect: Beyond The Page is a 4-week Screen Story Development and Pitching master class taught by Zak Kilberg and Iz Web, the heads of Sundance award winning film and television production company Social Construct Films. The master class will provide unique insights into the film industry's story selection and development process, and will help writers understand how to prepare and share their stories in a manner most likely to achieve positive results. Selected participants will have the opportunity to pitch their stories to a panel of industry gatekeepers at the Connect: Beyond the Page conference.

Connect: Beyond The Page will also partner with SameSide, a non-profit organization that installs action-accessible activations at concerts and events. Each Connect: Beyond The Page venue will host an activation station to raise awareness for a different social justice cause and give attendees an opportunity to make a difference in real time.

In the collaborative spirit of Asheville, Boilen will also appear at the Asheville Area Arts Council’s 8th annual Creative Sector Summit on the morning of Friday, April 20th. As keynote speaker, Boilen will deliver his vantage as a journalist and musician to explore what opportunities and challenges Asheville might expect to face as its music scene explodes. The summit will also feature panels exploring the economic impact case study of Asheville’s music industry. Tickets to the Creative Sector Summit are sold separately from Connect: Beyond The Page and are available at

A limited amount of Early Bird GA 3-day passes are on sale now for $99. Once Early Bird tickets sell out, General Admission 3-day passes will increase to $149. A limited number of VIP packages are also available at $249 and include access to a Thursday night welcome reception and kick-off party featuring a performance from Ben Sollee; entry to a daily VIP happy hour cocktail party; accelerated access to in-demand panels and performances; and more.

On Thursday, April 19th, Connect: Beyond The Page will host a kick-off party event at the Salvage Station. The event will feature a headlining performance from Ben Sollee. Entry into the event is included in all VIP Ticket Packages. This is a separately ticketed event for non-VIP pass holders. For more information and tickets, visit

For more information on Connect: Beyond The Page, visit

To purchase tickets to Connect: Beyond The Page, visit