Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet Glenn Reimer, NGLCCNY's Events Chair

an interview by Anthony Brincat

Plain Vanilla is not how you would describe Glenn Reimer.  In fact, in learning more about him, I thought to myself, I’m pretty damn boring!  Anyway, his background in retail management and merchandising for stores including Bloomingdales, The Gap, Eddie Bauer and Warner Brother Studio Stores coupled with his producing experience where he worked on projects for National Geographic, The History Channel, American Experience / PBS and Discovery Channel, takes him to a place in time where he can cultivate all the diverse experience he has gained and use it at Fourth Wall Events, an event design, management and production company, where he is a project manager.  Glenn plans, organizes and manages many different events for many different clients here in New York, the United States and other countries.   This man even portrayed John Adams for the History Channel in an epic 13-hour series titled “The Revolution.”
Clearly, we want to know more about him.

Anthony:  Mr. President, excuse me - Glenn, now that the revolution has ended, what keeps you busy these days?

Glenn:  This incredibly creative job at Fourth Wall Events, my 15-year old Sheeplands Ranger named Bear, learning more about NGLCC and NGLCCNY and how I can best serve them, and a couple of annual charitable events I help produce for a dear friend of mine. 

Anthony:  Event planning is a tough business – in a world where clients want more for less, how do you manage those expectations?

Glenn:  Communication, communication, communication.  We listen very carefully to what they’re saying and let them know up front that this event is going to look the way they want it to look. There’s only one aesthetic at Fourth Wall—the client’s.  Our design process is analogous to an interview in that you’re creating a feeling of trust going both directions, and then asking a series of questions; in this case the questions are regarding the experience they want their guests to have.  

Once we have a strong sense of that, we present them with the vision that the FWE creative team have created along with a budget estimate to produce that vision. If we’ve done our job properly, an ongoing dialogue begins where the client and our team work closely together to create the best event possible with the resources allocated to it.

Anthony:  Everyone wants the perfect venue, to stay within budget and hold an event that will last a lifetime.  Please finish this sentence.  When I plan, organize and manage an event, I have broken the fourth wall when . . .

Glenn:  The client walks into the room we’ve spent months planning together with numerous emails of floor plans and concept boards and renderings, stops… says WOW and then casually walks over and brushes her hand across a table to touch it for the first time.

Anthony:  What are the three most important elements of a successful event?

Glenn:  Constant communication, timing, relentless advance planning.

Anthony:  If you could plan, organize and manage any event at all, what would it be?

Glenn:  The wedding and reception of the first openly gay US presidential candidate.

Anthony:  What do think makes a client refer you to someone else?

Glenn:  Trust, first.  Exceeding their expectations, second.

Anthony:  Tell us more about the volunteer work you do at Comfort Ye and more specifically, what, if anything, do you take away from it?

Glenn:  Lauren Flanigan started Comfort Ye: A Concert for the Homeless at her church almost 20 years ago as a way to give back to the homeless of the Upper West Side.  As a world-class soprano singing at Covent Garden, La Scala and especially New York City Opera, she realized that she could present an amazing evening of song with little or no out-lay by the church or by her because she just asked her singer friends to stop by to sing an aria or two, then all sing “O Holy Night” together at the end.
When I met Lauren through friends who were volunteering front and back of house to create the concert, which was by then at Symphony Space, I told her that I wanted to help her as well since she really needed someone instead of her to gather and organize the volunteers and set up the stage.  I mean, she should have been home resting her voice to sing, not climbing on ladders! 

Since that day almost 6 years ago, I have worked with her every winter to garner dozens of volunteers for every aspect of the production of the concert via social media and  I also liaise with the other members of the organizing committee as we plan the event, and on concert day oversee the venue and its staff, work closely with the box office and cash donations, help the volunteers to set and strike the stage, direct the goods donations at the theatre door, and assign duties to all our great volunteers.

The feeling of giving selflessly to others is what I take home with me – a gift from Lauren - especially as the donated food goes directly to a nearby food bank right after the concert and starts to get used the next day; and all of the coats, blankets and diapers donated are taken to the nearby NYPD precinct and donated to the New York Cares Coat drive.  These are tangible items that make their way right into the systems that need them the most.  There is no middleman, just Lauren, her trusted driver, other volunteers and me distributing these goods ourselves after the crowds have left the theatre. 

I think a nice glow inside-and-out is the best phrase I can use without sounding cheesy.

Anthony:  What is your perfect Sunday afternoon?

Glenn:  My faithful mutt at my side, a good book on my lap, a sated feeling after brunch with friends, and an eclectic mix of music in the background… all tempered with a random series of unscheduled naps.

Anthony:  Finally, in a world where there are so many children without families who need loving and nurturing homes, how do you think gay and lesbian parenting fits in with these needs?

Glenn:  The concept of the traditional family is as irrelevant as “Ozzie and Harriet”; that show and its ideals were cancelled a long time ago.  Opponents of gay and lesbian parenting need to stop projecting their harmful biases on those who have found in themselves the depth of nurturing needed to raise the next generation of humans in a home filled with love, comfort and security.  After all, the ability to impart a strong sense of self and protect those we love is gender-blind and can no longer be a bastion of the so-called normal family.  Love is the new normal.

Written by Anthony Brincat, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Correspondent, Media Communications Committee.  Anthony is a Senior HR Manager at Allen & Overy LLP, a multi-national law firm.

Photography Credit: Vaughn Stewart, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Photographer, Media Communications Committee. Vaughn is Principal and Chief Photographer at Vaughn Stewart Photography.

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