We had the good fortune of connecting with Jarius Cliett and Lavern Smith of JMC Productions and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jarius and Lavern, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
JMC Productions specializes in promoting the discipline of music, producing and showcasing opera and musical theater events, and providing performance opportunities. We created JMC Productions because we noticed a lack of performance opportunities for talented Black performers. We wanted to create a space where Black artists could audition, book jobs, and perform without having to worry about being judged or rejected because of the way they look. We also created JMC Productions because we noticed a lack of adequate compensation for Black performers, resulting in the inability for Black artists to turn their passion into a fulfilling, lifelong career. We are dedicated to ensuring our fellow Black artists have the support they need to turn performing into a career, so we provide talent development, exposure, and adequate financial support.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
JMC Productions operates under three main pillars: Create, Develop, Perform. Under Create, we are writing and creating original works, including songs, screenplays, stage plays, and television pilots. Under Develop, we are offering a variety of masterclasses, workshops, camps, and piano and voice lessons. Under Perform, we are creating and providing opportunities for local Atlanta artists to be on the stage. What truly sets JMC Productions apart from other production companies is our dedication to the youth. We are committed to investing in and developing the youth in our community. We hope to expose our youth to the arts, nurture their interests, and foster a love for music by teaching the various educational, cultural, and social impacts that all forms of music have. We are extremely excited to announce we will be partnering with Kipp Soul Academy this school year, providing the Performing Arts and Drama Club for their extended learning program. JMC Productions’ mission is to see a world where becoming an artist is an encouraged, supported, and realistic passion and career path. This mission is why we created this business and how we got to where we are today. The journey here has not been easy, but it has been extremely rewarding. We launched our business in February, with our premiere event scheduled for March 13, the pinnacle of COVID-19. The event was sold out and we still had 60% of our supporters in attendance. We celebrated this launch, while secretly worrying and wondering “What do we do now?” We sadly watched as the theater world shut down. Entire performance seasons were cancelled. Full-time artists no longer had an income. Seeing this prompted us to host a virtual COVID-19 relief concert on YouTube Stream for local Atlanta performers. We rallied support from every single person we know. We texted every number in our phones, we DM’d all our Instagram followers, we reached out to old college classmates. We sold almost 400 tickets in 2 countries, 22 states, and 78 cities. Receiving that kind of support is what still pushes us today. It would be easy to quit and give up in the midst of a global pandemic where there is no end in sight. It would be easy to make excuses for ourselves, leaning on the fact that theaters won’t be opening any time soon and large scale events are not safe. However, we are choosing to pivot. A business always needs a contingency plan, and we feel blessed that this happened now while our financial obligations are extremely low. If no one remembers anything else about JMC Productions, we hope they remember that we are the company who will find a way because our community is worth it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We have received so much support from all of our friends and family members. They sold out our first two productions, and have continuously supported us. From our friends and family, there are two specific people we want to thank: Wanda Belvin-Cooper and Nina Packer. Mama Wanda (Founder Jarius Cliett’s mom) encouraged us to actually “do the work” and get the business started by filing for our LLC. She provided personal experience, financial support, and business contacts to help us turn this dream into a reality. Nina is a Entertainment Industry Educator and Philanthropic Strategist who has served as a mentor and business advisor for us, providing concrete tools and resources we needed to build a short and long term plan, a budget, and our vision.