Lights on the Lawn: beyond the music


Photo by Hunter Long.

Avery Muir, Life Editor

Steve Aoki will headline the 7th annual Lights on the Lawn benefit concert this Thursday, Sept. 20. Local Belmont artist Gibson Parker and up-and-coming EDM duo Young Bombs will kick off the show, and doors open at 7 p.m. While Lights on the Lawn has become a fall institution on Vanderbilt’s campus, the concert’s impact remains long after the thousands of attendees leave Alumni Lawn.

Over the past six years, Lights on the Lawn has raised over $450,000 in support of the Mary Parrish Center, which provides transitional housing to victims of interpersonal violence. The organization is the primary philanthropic effort of the Interfraternity Council, and is comprised of members from every IFC fraternity.

“It’s huge for IFC to have an organization that makes such a positive difference with so much intra council involvement,” Lights on the Lawn President Jack Dubreuil said. “Having collaboration between fraternities is kind of a rare and beautiful thing. We’re really happy about the impact it’s able to have as well as the way we’re able to team up to deliver the impact.”

The funds raised from the concert each year provide a substantial amount of the Mary Parrish Center’s annual income. According to Mary Katherine Rand, the Executive Director of the Mary Parrish Center, Lights on the Lawn was the top fundraiser last year, bringing in $100,000, and has been among the top three donors on an annual basis since it started fundraising for the center.

The Mary Parrish Center has focused on housing victims since 2009; previously, they had been renting a property and providing rent free apartments while covering the cost of utilities. In 2015, the funds from Lights on the Lawn allowed the Mary Parrish Center to buy the property they had been renting. Over the years, they have served over 130 women and children through their housing program.

“That was just really great, just to know that we would be able to have that capital and were going to be able to live out our mission and serve more survivors with this property,” Rand said.

This year, the center’s main goal is to renovate the apartments, turning these houses into homes in addition to offering a variety of support programs. Rand said that the property was built in the 1960s; because of this, the aging building needs an upgrade to become more stable and inviting.

“We strive to not only provide the safe housing, but also all the support services that they need to really heal from their abuse and give them hope for their future,” Rand said. “So we offer case management, individual and group therapy, we have enrichment activities, and we help with securing employment and housing advocacy so they have permanent housing to go to when they leave us.”

With great musicians and an even better cause, Dubreuil emphasizes the benefits of having such a high profile concert while promoting the event.  

“I think the genius of this event is that we’re able to take such an instantly sellable event and intertwine the cause so seamlessly with that, so it’s really a no brainer,” Dubreuil said.

Student tickets are still available for purchase at the Rand Wall and on Ticketweb for $20, and ticket prices will rise to $25 the day of the concert; general admission is $30. If you want to learn more about the Mary Parrish Center or apply to volunteer, click here.