The Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) has named Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation President and CEO Butch Spyridon the winner of the 2013 Nashville Film Festival Beacon Award. The award was presented by NaFF Executive Director Ted Crockett at Tuesday’s sneak peek screening of the Bureau’s new documentary film For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville.
“The Beacon Award is given to those rare individuals who lead through vision and shine a light on the many voices of the human spirit through the creative arts,” said Crockett. “Butch Spyridon is a visionary who has put his heart and soul into shining a light on the creative treasures Nashville has to offer. He is the perfect recipient of our first, ever, Beacon Award.”
The Award was created for NaFF by noted Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. It depicts an artist, presenting his head, heart and soul to the world, symbolizing the contribution of creators in the industries of film, fine arts, music and business. The Beacon Award will become an annual symbol of creative excellence at NaFF.
In recent months, Spyridon has focused his attention on telling Nashville’s story in film. For the Love of Music brings to light Nashville’s evolution into the world’s “Music City.” From the 1800’s when the Fisk Jubilee Singers travelled the continents, to Elvis, to Johnny Cash, to The Black Keys recording their hits, Nashville is a special place with a story to tell. The film was directed by Zach Merck. The cast includes the Black Keys, Fisk Jubilee Singers, Kings of Leon, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and many more .
Spyridon has served as president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation since 1991. Under his leadership, Nashville’s hospitality industry has evolved from an industry largely based on theme park and summer leisure travel, to a year-round destination for convention, business and leisure visitors. Hospitality’s evolution has made it the city’s second largest industry and elevated annual revenues to $4 billion.
In 2006, Spyridon spearheaded Nashville’s first-ever, city-wide branding initiative to grow the image of Nashville as Music City. He championed the construction of the Music City Center, the new $585 million downtown convention center and headquarter hotel. Throughout his career Spyridon has served on the boards of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). He’s also been active in the local community, serving on the boards of the Adventure Science Center, Nashville Hotel and Lodging Association, the Downtown Partnership, the Music City Bowl, the Museum of African American Music Art and Culture, and Conservancy of the Parthenon and Centennial Park.
A native of Pascagoula, Mississippi, Spyridon graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Business Administration. After serving as manager of Travel and Conventions Department at the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, and as Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Spyridon returned to Nashville where he has served as CEO for the last 20 years.
The Nashville Film Festival runs through April 25 at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16. Presented by Nissan, the Festival in 2013 will screen 268 films from 49 countries. Founded in 1969 by Mary Jane Coleman, it is one of the oldest film festivals in the U.S. As an Academy Award Qualifying Event, NaFF draws filmmakers and celebrity guests to its red carpet.
Photo by Shelley Justiss and shot of Beacon Award courtesy Nashville Film Festival.