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2012 alumna Hannah Houser is making music in unimagined ways

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(July 9, 2014)– The next time you hear someone ask about the value of a liberal arts education, just say “Forecastle.”

If Louisville, Kentucky’s annual music and arts festival means nothing, then say, “Bonnaroo,” the mega-event that draws the world to Middle Tennessee each June. Hannah Houser says what she learned as a Carson-Newman University English and Art double major is vitally important in her work with AC Entertainment. The nationally known East Tennessee company produces those events, as well as the Big Ears Festival, some 750 concerts annually and oversees Knoxville’s Tennessee and Bijou theaters.

“My education at Carson-Newman comes into play every single day,” said Houser, the company’s online and interactive media coordinator. “Without the well-balanced liberal arts education Carson-Newman provided, I wouldn't feel adequate to take on the multifaceted business I now love and work in. I'm beyond grateful for the places my education has allowed me to go.”

She handles the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and is the point person for Forecastle and Big Ears festivals’ website updates and newsletters. Her work includes featuring info on artists like Jack White, Outkast, the Replacements and others slated for next week’s show. She says she has learned real life answers to the questions she once asked of Graphic Design Professor Julie Rabun.

“‘Why can we only use two colors? Why must it be this size? With this font?’” Hannah recalls saying. “But now, as I work with musicians with strict ad mats (advertising materials), with newspaper design boundaries and other outlets with very clear-cut design specifications, my education has come full circle. That kind of preparation is irreplaceable.”

Hannah’s creativity has generated serious buzz, including last year’s Forecastle “social media correspondent” contest, which drew 2,000 votes over two weeks to decide the winner of a pair of weekend passes. A recent idea staged a Kentucky Derby-related contest that required entrants to design Forecastle-themed jockey silks for selection based on number of Facebook “likes.”

Such creativity by AC Entertainment staffers is credited with revitalizing the 12-year-old Forecastle Festival, which is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the nation’s best festivals. The July 18-20 event will draw 75,000 people to the city’s riverfront and generate as much as $15 million for Greater Louisville’s economy.

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