lafayette, louisiana, usa

Confirmed Speakers

David Dudley, executive editor, CityLab (US)

David Dudley is currently the executive editor of CityLab, Atlantic Media's digital publication that covers urban issues. He previously served as features editor of AARP The Magazine, editor-in-chief of Urbanite magazine, and music editor of the Baltimore City Paper. He's also the co-creator of 1814! The Rock Opera, which has been formally endorsed by several historians as the world's greatest rock opera about the War of the 1812. 


laura Simpson, ceo and co-founder, side door (ca)

Laura Simpson is the CEO and co-founder (along with artist, Dan Mangan) of Side Door, a new Canadian startup with the mission to create greater value and opportunities for performing artists by facilitating shows in houses and other alternative venues. The online platform matches artists and hosts based on preferences, then books and tickets shows. Side Door’s mission is to give audiences instant access to intimate and unique events happening in their own neighborhoods, hosted by passionate community curators. Laura has hosted for seven years at her own home, The Syrup Factory, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She believes experiencing amazing live art in intimate community settings leads to stronger human connection, greater empathy and improved mental health.


Matt McArthur, founding Executive Director, The Record Company (US)

Matt McArthur is the founding Executive Director of The Record Company (TRC), a non-profit music incubator on a mission to build a sustainable, equitable music scene in Boston.  Originally from Tucson, AZ, Matt moved to Boston in 2007 where he completed a Bachelor’s of Music from Berklee College of Music and developed an appreciation for the city’s diverse creative landscape.  Recognizing a need for affordable music workspace and with a desire to catalyze Boston’s creative capital for the benefit of all artists Matt founded TRC and has since grown the organization to operate a 5,000 square foot recording facility providing more than 1,300 affordable recording sessions serving more than 3,500 Boston musicians annually.  The organization is now in the process of a major expansion of its space and programs.  To stay sane, Matt maintains a very personal connection to his work through his own songwriting.


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shawn mclearen, co-founder, placeful (us)

As a community and culture real estate developer, Shawn McLearen has cultivated and administered over $100 million in public and private funds necessary to advance mixed-use, multi-policy, community development real estate projects.  Partners, financing structures and regulatory requirements include private foundations, tax credit equity, state bonds, local / state / federal program funds, and community finance banking products. A former Vice President of Real Estate Development for Artspace Projects – the nation’s largest non-profit developer for the arts – he has since co-founded Placeful, a non-profit community real estate development company with a mission to foster investment in community space through socially responsible partnerships in finance, agriculture, education and the arts (placeful.org).