The annual salute to Santa Cruz’s entrepreneurial spirit expands, honoring locals with a range of goals and crusades
When Matthew Swinnerton of Event Santa Cruz took over the Nexties last year, he had a plan: take the popular awards ceremony honoring locals who “create, build and inspire,” revamp it, and make it a show.
He did that, but as the Nexties awards show returns to the Rio Theatre on Friday, May 15, Swinnerton reveals that his vision for the Nexties is actually a three-year plan. The first year was the remodel, and this year sees the beginning of an expansion, with an under-18 category and an award to seven-piece local band Coffee Zombie Collective.
“Next year is my full vision,” says Swinnerton. “It might be 10-15 winners. This is a test run, almost.”
The 18-and-under category is the most significant addition, and winner Courtney Laschkewitsch first made her mark with a speech about the entrepreneurial spirit given at Event Santa Cruz, the series of talks also produced by Swinnerton.
“We have to keep that newness, and what better way to do that than to have [a winner] under 18,” says Swinnerton of the new category. “There are so many young kids that are doing something. They’re not just sitting there playing Xbox.”
In many ways, the Nexties awards overlap nicely with Swinnerton’s work in Event Santa Cruz.
“It’s about people, and their stories,” he says. “ However we showcase it, it still comes back to that.”
In particular, though, the Nexties represent the search for “the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”
“These are not the people everybody knows. These are the people you’re going to be hearing about from now on,” says Swinnerton.
Introducing this year’s Nexties winners …