Stagehand is an open web-based platform that makes it easy to work with local artists to create spaces where people want to live, work and play. Historically the arts industry relied on talent bookers, who have a vested interest in keeping information private. This has resulted in a proprietary and fragmented industry with limited opportunity for innovation and growth. Stagehand allows artists to be more accessible and helps to build an inclusive industry network. The company automates key processes like curation, contracts, scheduling and promotion in a user-friendly way. Stagehand creates a marketplace where artists and venues can do business directly without a middleman. In the same way that Airbnb made it easy for anyone to behave like a hotel, Stagehand has made it easy for anyone to behave like a talent booker.

Airports, typically high-stress locations, are great examples of spaces that can benefit from live art performances. In 2019, Stagehand helped the Calgary airport host more than 1,800 live performances with local musicians. The YYC music program, enjoyed by travellers and musicians alike, won an industry award for customer service. All of this was accomplished with a limited budget and no additional airport staff.

Himself the father of three daughters who are talented, up-and-coming artists, Stagehand co-founder Derek Manns recognized how difficult it can be for artists to make a living and wanted to do something about it. Since launching in 2016, Stagehand has expanded to do business in Los Angeles, New Jersey and New Orleans. The third-party validation provided by its involvement with UCeed has been incredibly valuable. The arts sector is dominated by charitable and not-for-profit organizations that can be cautious when working with new entrants to the market. The extensive vetting performed by UCeed provides credibility that will help raise funds from angel investors and organizations with an interest in the arts.

“UCeed’s support of Stagehand as a promising startup and a social enterprise has been so important to our growth in the arts community," says Manns. "We are excited to be working with UCeed as we take Stagehand to the next level.”

Visit Stagehand’s website for more information.

Stagehand has received investment from UCeed, a venture philanthropy fund accelerating UCalgary and community-based startup companies to advance problem-solving research, create jobs and fuel the economy. A key program in the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, UCeed bridges the gap between innovation, demonstration and commercialization, and is managed by UCalgary’s knowledge-transfer and business incubator, Innovate Calgary.

The UCeed Social Impact Fund is powered by the generosity of the United Way of Calgary and Area and its mission to mobilize communities for lasting social change and the Government of Alberta’s Creative Partnerships initiative to support arts and non-profit sectors.