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1/24 — Alice Longyu Gao



Art, Music + Tech Come Together At The Panorama Festival Launch

“Back in the day, you were either a musician or a fashion designer,” says Milk founder Mazdack Rassi. “Today, the verticals are gone. It’s all about renaissance.” Creative industry leaders, artists, and models—like editors Kate Lanphear and Zanna Roberts Rassi, models Molly Bair and Georgia Fowler, designer Carlie Cushnie, stylist Ian Bradley, and BBHM/social media star Sanam Sindhi—are milling about as we talk, and in the whirlwind of activity, it’s becoming hard to tell who does what. The record execs dress like their artists and the artists dress like their record execs. But that’s the point—in the renaissance, you wear many hats. “It’s just culture,” says Rassi: music, fashion, and tech have become one.

The occasion is the pre-launch party for this year’s inaugural Panorama Festival at the Tribeca Rooftop. As the name suggests, Panorama seeks to provide a 360 degree view of the current state of art in the 21st century—all those facets that Rassi mentioned. An old-school music fest this is not: in addition to three stages with headliners like Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, and LCD Soundsystem, Panorama also boasts Eater-curated food, and “The Lab.” Courtesy of The Verge, this immersive, interactive experience is perhaps the perfect embodiment the festival’s ethos, combining cutting-edge tech with avant-garde art: a 70-foot video dome, it’s VR IRL.

Mark Shulman, senior VP at AEG Live and the man behind the festival, explains that “we were looking at the idea that New York City is a capital of music, art, and fashion, and trying to figure out what really binds it all together. The idea was, really, technology.” It’s true: speaking with Scott Studenberg and John Targon, the designers/MADE alums behind Baja East, they are quick to mention their 90s hip-hop influences, however, the conversation quickly turns to The Lab. Their excitement is palpable: Studenberg exclaims “that’s fucking major!” and Targon adds that “the idea that you can be in one spot, and have so many different experiences, and across so many different genres of music, and just lose yourself: that’s inspiring.”

For all its focus on global technology, however, Panorama is very much dedicated to being a New York happening. Shulman emphasizes the importance of the city’s unique, multifaceted community made up of “both creatives and technicians.” Rassi adds that, “if there’s a kid in Ohio who says, ‘I want to be in the creative businesses,’ the first city he thinks about is New York. In London, they think about New York. In Tokyo, they think about New York.”

In the spirit of its community, Panorama has also invested in philanthropic efforts, including one charity called All Star Code. Founded in 2013, this non-profit teaches black and Latino high-school boys not only how to code, but also how the leadership and collaborative skills to navigate today’s technological landscape. Founder and executive director Christina Lewis Halpern explains that “only 1% of VC-backed startups have a black or Latino [person] on the founding team. At technology companies, African-Americans and Latinos make up roughly 8% of the industry. This is extraordinary under-representation, yet there are so few nonprofits to help them.”

Panorama helped fund All Star Code’s six-week “summer intensive,” a free program that will provide ten students from Queens and the Bronx with 210 hours of computer science education, on top of visits to companies like Google and Dropbox. Randolph Adler, a partner at Dentons and co-chair of its startup program, helped fund the program as well, and explains that “this proves that [Panorama is] super involved in the community, and is interested in New York tech, because they really took a sincere look at it, and actually invested hard cash to fund the program.”

Panorama is not simply a festival to celebrate technology and the arts; it’s a mission to help grow them. It’s “panoramic,” then, in more ways than one, and is changing the creative landscape through the synthesis of so many elements once thought disparate – a true 21st century renaissance festival. As Shulman says, “we have rethink the way that we create art around technology” Panorama seems like the best first step.

Stay tuned to Milk for more Panorama.

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