On nurturing Delaware's creative economy - Technical.ly Delaware


Feb. 12, 2020 2:53 pm

On nurturing Delaware’s creative economy

Gayle Dillman, cofounder of Gable Music Ventures, talks about the role the arts play in economic development ahead of her first TEDx talk.
The Ladybug Festival in 2016.

The Ladybug Festival in 2016.

(Courtesy photo)

Correction: TEDxGoldeyBeacomCollegeSalon speakers for the Feb. 15 event have been updated. (2/12/20, 4:32 p.m.)

It was nine years ago this month when Gayle Dillman and Jeremy Hebbel started Gable Music Ventures, a music booking business that would alter the arts landscape in Delaware.

Today, the longtime home-based business has an office in the Idea Loft on Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington and an eight-person team, including WilmInvest cofounder Bryce Fender and Green Box Kitchen co-owner Angela Wagner.

Gable’s most famous project is the Ladybug Festival, the free LOMA street festival that evolved over the last eight years to become, according to Dillman, the largest woman-focused music festival in the U.S.

This year’s festival, to be held the third Thursday in July, is moving to the 400 block of Market Street above 4th Street rather than below.

“It will give us a little more space,” Dillman told Technical.ly.

Ladybug has incorporated different ideas over the years, including a pub loop, a family day and expanded offerings such as comedy and a fashion show. It even has its own locally brewed craft beer. Exactly what Ladybug 2020 will offer will be announced as the date gets closer, but Dillman did share that her team is discussing having a half-day summit the day following the festival, including panels where guests will speak on the topic of women in the music business.

“My grand plan is to grow Ladybug into a weeklong celebration of women — not just musicians, but also in art, dance and film,” she said.


Expanding Ladybug’s offerings makes sense, as the event becomes more nationally known: “People come to the festival from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Brooklyn and New York City,” Dillman said.

While the festival continues to draw people in from out of state, Gable’s mission remains Delaware focused. A second Ladybug festival held in September was started a couple of years ago in Milford, and doubled in size in its second year.

Dillman calls it “nurturing the creative economy.” Music, and the arts in general, are a major part of the culture of any city — and, she says, a big factor in whether locally cultivated tech talent decides to stay in Delaware.

“There’s a lot of focus on bringing businesses to Delaware, and that’s great,” she said. “But the creative economy — when people see that there are cool and creative things happening in their community — it gives them a reason to want to stay. It makes people proud of their community.”

A strong creative economy helps bring jobs to the area, she said, by helping to build an identity where the cool and positive overshadows any drawbacks.

Ladybug is Gable’s biggest event of the year, but it is not the only one by far. This year, it will be booking special events from Kennett Square to Smyrna, breaking in its new custom booking software program, created for Gable by Trolley Web in Trolley Square.

Dillman will talk about her entrepreneurial journey at the TEDxGoldeyBeacomCollegeSalonWomen in Entrepreneurship event on Saturday, Feb. 15. Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, Louise Cummings, Dr. Brittany Hazzard, Christine Rich, Suzanne Heron, Courtney A. Seard and Jessica Park.


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