Music industry veteran Ken Arlen and his Arlen Music Productions (AMP) have helped hundreds of Chicago-area nonprofits take their fundraising efforts to new heights by providing top-notch entertainment that inspires guests to support the charities’ fundraising events year after year. “Hiring great entertainers who know how to become part of the creative vision for an event is an investment, not a cost,” Arlen says.
“It’s not enough to just show up and play,” Arlen adds. “You want professionals who can help design a flow for the evening, inject energy, and set a tone that is consistent with the organization’s goals and the event’s theme.”
AMP, based in Chicago, accomplishes this by having its band directors work closely with event chairs and administrative staff. Their goal is to creatively integrate music throughout the evening, from speeches to auctions to meal service to dancing. “The music should tie everything together and make the event fun and memorable, so that guests will want to be generous with their support and will look forward to returning,” Arlen says. “There’s a lot of competition, with hundreds of causes and galas vying for attention. We want people to walk away saying it’s the best time they’ve had in a long time, and then put the date on their calendar for next year and even bring their friends.”
Arlen says having an experienced emcee and quality entertainment is crucial to the success of any event. He says he has seen the right use of music at the right time get auction paddles moving and lead to better fundraising results.
AMP employs 75 core musicians within 10 ensembles who perform nearly any style or genre of music, as well as 10 production crew members to handle sound and logistics for events.
The company provides entertainment for about 20 fundraisers a year — large and small, in the Chicago area and beyond. Arlen’s own band, the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra, has been the headliner at the Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala, Catholic Charities Spirit of St. Nicholas Ball, Lincoln Park Zoo Ball, and UNICEF Gala Chicago, to name a few. The 2019 schedule includes the Chicago Bears Cares Gala, Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago Lights Gala of Hope, the Almost Home Kids Gala, the Misericordia Women’s Board Fundraiser, and the Illinois Bar Foundation Fundraiser. AMP also makes generous contributions to many local causes.
In addition to fundraisers, AMP designs and executes tailored entertainment at events ranging from luxury weddings to the presidential inaugural ball to, for the past 14 years, the Bellagio’s New Year’s Eve party in Las Vegas, where Arlen and his band recently performed with pop superstar Bruno Mars.