Level Up! Level Exchange provides a launch pad for artistic entrepreneurs

Providence is nothing if not artsy — they don’t call us the Creative Capital for nothin’! With creative juices flowing freely and abundantly from all corners of the city and surrounding towns, it isn’t surprising that so many organizations focused on helping young artists explore their passions have popped up over the last couple of decades. And now there’s a new name in the game. Founded on a firm belief in the power of art and creativity as a business and the artist-centric business model, Level Exchange (LX) promises to take the dreams and skills of local musicians and visual artists to the next level. (Pun intended.)

The Pawtucket studio celebrated its official launch on September 8, complete with performances by two local hip-hop groups, Sun of Sound and The Funk Underground. However, founder and booking agent Lindsey Lerner planted the first seeds back in 2015 when she realized the politics of the music industry she had come to know and appreciate needed to change. In an exclusive interview, Lerner explained that the LX experience offers artists a full scope of promotional services, leaving no gaps in artists’ arsenals of tools for success. LX member musicians not only get the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians, but with representatives from the media and the legal industries. “We offer ‘office hours’ with lawyers to advise our artists on the parts of the industry they may be unfamiliar with,” said Lerner. To jump back to the basics, though, LX also is committed to helping artists grow purely on a creative level. And they’re getting big results. “Our affiliated artists have put on great shows inside and outside of the space, expanding their audience while getting to do what they love,” said Lerner. Of course, when you’ve got an entire team of people who know the business and the value of hands-on experience helping you every step of the way, success is the only option.

Since its inception, Level Exchange has expanded to support not only musicians, but visual artists, another group of individuals who often face challenges in marketing and monetizing their talents. Lerner acknowledged the seemingly bleak road for artists struggling to preserve what are often seen as dying crafts, and refused to accept that label. “Entrepreneurship is a word that gets thrown around a lot,” she pointed out. “To me, an entrepreneur is someone who makes something out of nothing. That is exactly what artists do every single day — they create the world that we live in because of their creativity and willingness to take risks.” Often, the decision to pursue music or art as a career — or as any remote means of profitability — is seen as too big a risk. The LX team is out to change that view, offering an entire support network of people who still see the inherent value of art, and who celebrate and commend those risk-takers rather than condemn them. “I hope that LX artists will feel validation in their chosen art, proven to them by the tangible content they create here,” Lerner stated. “I also hope that when this content inevitably widens their audience, they have learned the necessary skills to reap the financial rewards of their creation.”

So, what’s next for LX? “We would love to expand our space to allow for more music to happen simultaneously,” Lerner stated. As of right now, LX is benefitting from partnership with The Guild, a popular local brewery, as a performance venue. Beginning in October, LX will host live sessions every Sunday evening in their very own Rug Room, and the lineups will vary from local to nationally touring artists. Lerner and the rest of the team show no signs of stopping their efforts to make LX the Rhode Island hub for musicians and other artists who want to make themselves known. “We are rooted in the understanding that art is a business and business is an art,” Lerner affirmed. “The most successful people and companies are the ones that are able to connect both sides of this equation.”

For further information or to join LX, go to levelexchange.co

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