Anderson Coward knows a thing or two about how to generate buzz.
At work, in his role at York University as new media and communications specialist in the Faculty of Education, he oversees the faculty’s social media channels and blogs, he works on marketing/communications initiatives and supports events. He’s been in this role, which has evolved over the years from his initial title of communications coordinator, for more than 20 years, beginning his career at the University in August 1999.
But, the buzz doesn’t stop there.
Outside of work life, Coward has spent more than 20 years as an event producer, promoter and party host, bringing excitement to people and places across the City of Toronto. It’s a side gig he’s been pursuing since his teenage years, when he first got involved in planning events at high school.
During his senior years at Oakwood Collegiate Institute – grades 12 and 13 at the time – Coward was president of the dance committee.
“A few of my friends from the neighbourhood had a little DJ crew called Grand Crew, and I would hire them on a regular basis to play at our school dances,” Coward recalls. “When I began my studies at York U, I got involved with the Caribbean Students Association (CSA) and tapped my friends again to DJ at some of the dances the CSA put on at Founders and Bethune Colleges and at The Underground.”
That’s when Grand Crew took on Coward – or Andy C. as he’s known in the industry – as their manager, and the group’s success began to emerge in the Toronto entertainment scene.
“Our popularity as a DJ crew started to grow and we started to get hired by nightclubs and local promoters to play at their venues. That’s how I initially got involved in the entertainment scene in Toronto,” said Coward.
In the early years of being an official event promoter, starting somewhere around 1998, Coward would promote events on a weekly basis. Now, he focuses on producing bi-monthly special events, dedicating 15 to 25 hours of his time per event, which includes booking a venue, hiring DJs and hosts, the development of promotional collateral, and then a three- to four-week online promotional campaign.
“I grew up in the Toronto club scene. This was our form of entertainment and our way of socializing and meeting people in an environment that was fun. Great venues, good music and great people… what more could you ask for?
“Now that I’m older and married with kids, the four to five events that I produce per year provide an opportunity for me to connect with friends who are also at the same stage in their lives. We all don’t go out partying as often as we used to, but when I can get people to attend, my goal is to ensure that they are immersed in the environment and enjoying the music and the vibe for at least a few hours. It’s a good break from our everyday lives.”
His events, promoted under the label “Andy C Events,” are definitely buzz-worthy, drawing out music-loving crowds and high profile entertainment. Two past events that stand out as favourites for Coward, including a concert featuring the band Cameo (famous for their 1986 hit Word Up), co-produced with a company called Definiti, that took place at the Atlantis night club at the former Ontario Place to a sold-out show of more than 1,500 guests.
The other was for a party series called Sophisticate After Dark, where Coward managed to hire Naughty by Nature to perform at 6 Degrees Nightclub for a mini hip hop concert.
As well as featuring well-known artists, his events have also produced A-list crowds with celebrity guests including LL Cool J, Idris Elba, Morris Chestnut, Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Base.
Coward’s experience with party promotion and planning is vast – from nightclubs to special events to parties on boats (which he says are the most challenging to produce). But his love for music, dancing and bringing people together is what keeps his heart beating to the pulse of Toronto’s nightlife.
“My attraction has always been seeing people enjoy themselves on the dance floor,” he says. “I’m a big believer that music allows individuals to put all of their problems and worries aside and to be free. I love seeing people on the dance floor dancing and singing the lyrics to their favorite songs. It’s liberating to watch.”
You can follow Coward on Instagram at andyc_events.
By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, deputy editor, YFile