Annie McAllister describes 1540 Productions as a “full-service creative studio.”
McAllister, who is the company’s executive producer, told me in an email interview earlier this month that 1540 employs a multidisciplinary team to provide the best in event development and execution. 1540, he said, offers a “total solution” to event planning, offering everything in-house: design, food and beverage programs, scenery and much more. The company’s roster is a veritable who’s who of A-listers, from Apple TV+ to Disney to Hulu to Netflix to ESPN and more.
1540, with offices on both coasts in Los Angeles and New York, is a marketing agency founded and led by minority women. This, McAllister said, is important because it serves as “the core of who we are and the experiences we create with our customer partners.” It is imperative for McAllister and the team to be as diverse and inclusive as possible; to that end, he says the team is “thrilled” to be working with some of the world’s biggest brands, whose internal event teams share this core vision of always promoting empathy and inclusivity.
The company has compiled a draft of its work on its website.
“It is important for our team to create events with a special flavor that can reach many patrons. After all, our client audiences are incredibly distinctive and it’s this kind of round-the-clock thinking that gives the 1540 project that special “meat”. Every aspect is carefully considered with our clients to meet the needs of each brand,” McAllister said of the decisiveness of inclusive events.
When the pandemic was at its peak (or peak, if you prefer brutal honesty), 1540 adapted to the demands of working from home and running the business remotely. Now that the individual is back in vogue, McAllister says the team has refocused on being accessible, inclusive and for sure events with groups of real human beings gathered in close proximity to each other.
Accessibility, McAllister told me, is becoming a priority for organizers.
The disability community is connected to accessibility, but is often inadvertently left out of conversations about DEI. It’s quite a paradox, considering that the disability community is the largest marginalized group on the planet, with one in five people identifying as having a disability. And inexplicably, we are often relegated to living on the fringes of the outcasts.
“I think agencies are working harder than ever before in terms of fair access to events to make sure all communities are able to have these incredible brand experiences,” McAllister said of her industry’s inclusivity.
McAllister emphasized that 1540 believes their events are “bigger” than the company itself, telling me, “We feel a deep sense of accomplishment that our longtime clients trust us with the responsibility of bringing their messages to life.”
Notably, McAllister and team are well aware that accessibility can and does mean different things to different people.
“Accessibility can mean many different things,” he said. “For us, accessibility continues to mean (but not limited to) equitable access to the event, both physical and quality of experience. In support of this mission, we take accessibility into account [as legally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act]local versus remote resources for mothers [real life] to develop programming that offers access, dietary restrictions, allergies and a complete cultural perspective.’
In the long term, McAllister sees an upward trend in events like 1540 officials becoming more disability-friendly. In her fourteen years in the industry, McAllister notes that she has made a “tremendous effort” to reach diverse audiences through programming, and that disability is part of those efforts. Gorakada credits brands with “leading the way with new requirements and ground rules” for blockbuster movie premieres and the like, so that “every special need is taken into account when creating once-in-a-lifetime events.”
As with all accessibility, the work is permanent. It is endless.
“The accessibility of events is perhaps one of the biggest challenges in production, because the brand, venue, guest list and each desired message is very unique to that special moment. Although some basic guidelines are in place [like the ADA] always keep in mind, working with our customers in every scenario is one of our top priorities,” said McAllister. “So much effort goes into this aspect, from pre-planning to on-site problem response and post-event messaging. Accessibility, in all its forms, remains at our forefront  creative process”.