Jason Blades, who is the events coordinator of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), did an interview with us. The interview can be read after the break.
TWLOHA, nearly everyone in the Warped Tour scene has heard, spoken, or seen this acronym multiple times while participating in the music scene. At one point, their t-shirts were so popular to wear, that I couldn’t go a day of high school without seeing at least one. The acronym stands for “To Write Love On Her Arms” and they are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to help people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We had the chance to do an interview with Jason Blades, who is their events coordinator about the importance of touring to their non-profit and how it helped them grow and spread their message!
Digital Tour Bus: Can you please state your name, company name, and position?
To Write Love On Her Arms: My Name is Jason Blades and I work as a music and events coordinator for the non-profit organization, To Write Love On Her Arms.
DTB: Can you give us a little background on what To Write Love On Her
Arms does and how it got started?
TWLOHA: *(below taken from TWLOHA.com and info book)
To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and help for those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We also exist to encourage, inspire, inform and invest directly into treatment and recovery. This began as an attempt to tell a story and a way to help a friend in the spring of 2006. The story and the life it represented shed light on the reality of contrast – pain and suffering, addiction and sobriety, regret and the possibility of freedom. The story’s title, “To Write Love On Her Arms,” was also a goal – believing that a better life was possible. We started selling t-shirts as a way to pay for our friend’s treatment and we made a MySpace Page to give the story a home.
In the days that followed, we learned quickly that the story we were telling represented people everywhere. We heard from people searching for help, who had lost those they love to addiction and suicide, and from others asking what they could do to bring hope to their communities. It seemed we had stumbled into a bigger story, a conversation that needed to be had. We’ve learned that these are not american issues, not White issues or “emo” issues. These are issues of humanity, problems of pain that affect millions of people around the world. We are honored to still be a part of this story of hope, of inviting people into this conversation, and being a bridge to healing.
Since 2006 TWLOHA has:
-Answered over 160,000 messages from over 100 countries
-Invested almost one million dollars into treatment and recovery
-Spent time on the road with 11 major tours across the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
-Spent 5 summers on the Vans Warped Tour
Q: Being a regular Warped Tour attendee, I have seen the TWLOHA tent at
every Warped Tour I have ever been to. How important has Warped Tour been to
spreading the word about what you do?
A: Warped Tour has been a huge part of our story for the last 6 years. Warped tour is a unique festival that rallies people in 50 cities all across the US. The tour has a “Take Action” Non-profit section. We have been fortunate to be invited as a part of this tour in the “Take Action” section for the last 5 years. Each year Warped Tour gets anywhere from 500,000-600,000 people to attend, so we have been able to take advantage of those numbers and get our mission and message out to these people. We also see a ton of support from a lot of the bands on tour that are willing to wear a shirt from stage or talk about our cause. Without our involvement on Warped, we would miss out on reaching a huge demographic.
DTB: Can you describe the goals of TWLOHA when you’re at a concert or
other type of live event? How are those goals achieved?
TWLOHA: Whenever we are at a concert, festival, or event our main goal is to engage, educate, inform and inspire as many attendees as possible. We love when people approach our booth or tent with curiosity. We want to educate people on the stigma associated with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide to help break down the barriers for those who are struggling. We want people to know that they are not alone and that there is help available for them. They they are important, and we believe in them. We don’t want people to feel shame or guilt for their struggles. Our involvement at each event can vary but we always have a table with resources and information available with a team member ready to help connect people to those resources.
DTB: How do you guys get around while on tour? Do you ride with one of
the bands on the tour or do you have your own transportation?
TWLOHA: We have done both. We have driven our own vehicles and also ridden with bands on tour. We prefer to ride with a band because it helps us build both personal and professional relationships with the artists and also because splitting up driving amongst everyone is much easier and safer. Riding with a band allows us to spend more time focusing on promoting our mission at each event, festival or tour stop.
DTB: Do you think touring would still be feasible without selling
merchandise at the events?
TWLOHA: Yes. We are in a very unique position because our efforts are funded by donations and merchandise sales, so selling merchandise helps us out a ton. But, we often do events that are solely informational and educational where we are able to connect with our audience and promote our mission without having any merchandise.
DTB: Do you have any tips that you would recommend to other charitable
organizations or bands that want to go on tour?
TWLOHA: I would recommend that a charity start small with tours. Doing a big tour can be exhausting, especially if it is not planned well. Each year Warped Tour invites local NPO’s and charity’s out in each city to give them a chance to promote their mission. Some of those smaller non-profits have then done the whole summer. I would also tell them to make sure they have their mission and a plan for their promotion on each tour so that they can be effective with their time, resources and taking advantage of each interaction that they get.
DTB: What have been some of the most memorable tour moments for TWLOHA?
TWLOHA: We have done quite a few tours and festivals and are thankful for each and every opportunity that we get to promote and spread our mission. We are also thankful for each supporter that we get, without them we would not have gotten to where we are today. Every day through answering messages and at every event we participate in we get to interact with the people that support our mission. The most memorable moments we encounter are the ones that we share with our supporters and in the relationships are built and created while being on the road.
DTB: Thank you for answering all of our questions. Do you have any final
comments to add?
TWLOHA: I would want to encourage people to visit our website at www.twloha.com. We have a find help that we have created that we really believe in. If you or a loved one knows anyone struggling, there is help available, and you are not alone.
Joshua Weidling Owner/Founder
I'm the owner & founder of Digital Tour Bus. I started the company in my dorm room during my freshman year of college. I have a degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Outside of music and going to concerts, I'm a big fan of stand-up comedy, playing board games, trying the most amazing unhealthy food, and watching really mediocre comedy tv shows.