Courtney Keene could be considered a celebrity in her own right for the attention and care she gives to others, including celebrities that she works with on a regular basis. This Chattanooga native grew up following her father around the Tivoli, where he was a stage hand before embarking on her own journey through the fashion industry in New York and Milan. She only began to work in the music industry when a friend asked her to fill in for an empty catering position on the Celine Dion tour. She has worked a gamut of positions from front-of-house to chef to production coordinator, but the one that aided most in her transition back to Chattanooga was her stint as personal assistant to Jennifer Lopez and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
How did you end up back at the Tivoli?
Courtney: I had been on the road full time and home only about three months out of the year. Home at that point flip flopped between L.A. and here. When I was Jennifer’s personal assistant, I lived at her house. With Trent, I lived in Silver Lake but I was home for maybe three hours a day because we were on the road a lot. At that point Nine Inch Nails was back together. I was around other people’s families so much that I began to miss my own . My dad came to see me when I was out in Atlanta working for Trent and I really began to miss home so I started to look for places in town. I bought the condo I currently live in but I still wasn’t based here. My uncle sent me the article about AC Entertainment taking over management at the Tivoli and I basically stalked anyone and everyone involved with the position, sent them my resume, and got an interview for the Event Manager position. That’s when I came back full time. My brother is married now with a four year old so it’s good to be back in town with him. It’s amazing to be back at the Tivoli where I grew up and come full circle.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from being on tour and becoming a personal assistant?
Courtney: You learn a lot because you’re constantly observing people. You make sure that you’re one step ahead of the problem or situation that you’re going to need to take care of. I think that’s the key to being a successful event manager; figure out what the important details are going to be so you can see what could arise and take care of it before it becomes a serious problem down the road. As a personal assistant my day began when the star’s day ended because I had to be twelve hours ahead of them and plan things like the next meal, where they are going, what door they will go in, the contact at the location, details when children are involved, etc. You also learn about how you want to treat other people and how you want to be treated. I’ve been the caterer, the personal assistant, the runner, the assistant production manager, and I’ve learned a lot about how people treat someone based on their role. It’s important to me that everyone on staff at the Tivoli has a family relationship and treats each other well.
What is your role at the Tivoli?
Courtney: I am the Events Manager and have been for a little over a year. I advance the shows with the production and/or tour managers of each show as well as with AC promoter reps from Knoxville. I deal with all of the security, hospitality, and what goes on backstage as well as front of house details. It’s a little bit of everything, which is good because that’s what I’ve worked with for a long time.
Why is the Tivoli important to Chattanooga?
Courtney: The Tivoli is known as “The Jewel of the South,” and the staff want to continue to keep it that way. We got a new roof put on, completed some drainage and leak problems, fixing some heat and air issues. Those aren’t Hollywood kind of details, but we’re trying to restore the building to its original beauty. As far as programming, we want to bring enough shows to make downtown vibrant again. I love to hear people say that they haven’t been to a show at the Tivoli since they were little. It’s a great feeling to see people experience it for the first time or get reintroduced to it. One thing I appreciate now more than ever is the kids’ programming. Watching little kids’ faces as they walk into the lobby for the first time is an amazing feeling because they feel such awe at being in a vibrant place. Those moments are great for me and great for Chattanooga.
What are some goals for you in partnership with the Tivoli this year?
Courtney: My goals are to keep in line what we have established in the past year. I think we have a great team working here, especially in partnership with other organizations like the CSO. I would like to keep those relationships growing. I would also like to continue learning about the history of the Tivoli. I’ve met people whose grandfathers were ushers here and I would like to learn more of those stories and find old photos to document that. I also want to become more successful with the events that we put on. I want our patrons to have an enjoyable experience from when they purchase the ticket to when they come to the show, and for our performers from when they walk off the bus to when they leave Chattanooga.