At our March lunch, JK McKnight — founder of Art of Impact, Forecastle Festival and Forecastle Foundation — shared insights into the generational trends that led to the development of his three-tiered brand engagement platform. He noted that Gen Z and Millennials are rethinking not just how they work, but why. To connect with younger audiences, brands must shift their focus to creating engaging experiences. He added that “experience” and purpose-driven brands have a competitive edge because it’s no longer all about the money for young workers and consumers.
McKnight is an entrepreneur, producer, consultant and community builder. He is best known as the founder of The Forecastle Festival, one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals that draws 75,000 fans for a weekend celebration of music, art and activism. It was created in 2002 as a small community gathering in Louisville, and has grown into a major, international attraction. Outside Magazine hailed it as one of the “Top 10 Festivals in the Country” while Rolling Stone deemed it one of the “Coolest Festivals in America.” It annually posts an economic impact of over $15 million.
McKnight’s Forecastle Foundation is an international environmental 501(c)(3) dedicated to protecting and connecting the world’s natural awesome. It works by partnering with grassroots organizations to conserve the richest reservoirs of life left on the planet. These biodiversity zones, known as “hot spots,” cover just 2.3% of the Earth’s surface, yet account for 77% of all vertebrae species and 50% of all plant life. They play a vital role in regulating world temperatures and are highly threatened due to a variety of factors, including development, deforestation, pollution, poaching and unsustainable agricultural practices.
Art of Impact is an experiential agency specializing in festival consulting, experiential marketing and nonprofit partnerships. Combined together, all three form a new marketing platform to reach Gen Z and millennials effectively while positively impacting their lives and communities.
McKnight graduated from St. Xavier High School and attended the College of Charleston, Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville.