Craig Nyman | Nevada Public Radio

The Life is Beautiful programmer turned his trauma into purpose, keeping the thrill of live music a reality for Las Vegas — and for himself

Craig Nyman is doing very well. But it took him a long time to get there: four years, one month and six days, as he reveals. That’s nearly 1,500 days to recapture the daily joy he felt before that tragic night on Route 91, which he attended with a group of friends. The day before his epiphany – November 6, 2021 – he had gone to the Rolling Stones concert at Allegiant Stadium with his brother and parents. It was a celebration in full swing: Nyman’s very first gig was a 1989 Stones show, also experienced with his family. The next morning he woke up and said to himself, “I feel really happy.”

If you know Nyman even by chance, the first thing you imagine when you hear his name is his permanent smile. Even before 2013, when he landed his dream gig as head of music and programming for Life Is Beautiful – the annual downtown Las Vegas festival – his face always suggested that his very life was a dream gig. But October 1, 2017 obscured the light that naturally emanated from him.

It is unlikely that the road to recovery began exactly a week after the shooting, at the same resort from which the shots rang out. Nyman attended a House of Blues concert conducted by Billy Idol, mainly to reunite with managers associated with both Idol and Tom Petty, the latter of whom had died suddenly five days earlier. Grief hung in the air that night, but Nyman miraculously got stronger and found his focus. “That moment, for me, was like jumping straight back into things,” he says. “For example, I can’t be afraid of things, even if it can be hurtful and painful like (the shooting). It was just, my path is to move forward collectively to heal people and bring joy and happiness. happiness.

Which meant getting into two things: therapy and work. The first came from a professional specializing in traumatology and offered her services free of charge to the survivors of the festival. (“That gesture saved my life,” Nyman says through tears.) The latter was possible because his colleagues at Life Is Beautiful shielded him from any security concerns — which now included additional exits and law enforcement, helicopters and police drones – so he can focus on the event offering. The 2018 edition took place safely and without violence.

The same can be said for most other entertainment events in Las Vegas since. Venues have paid greater attention to safety, as well as to the capabilities of the public. Nyman keeps out of crowds these days and looks for anything suspicious. However, what he primarily sees is a culture and industry that seems ambivalent about violence at public events; even warnings to see something say something have all but disappeared.

“It shouldn’t be something that when an October 1st anniversary comes around, we move (along), and there’s a plethora of entertainment and concerts in the city,” Nyman says. “And I understand that we’re a city open for business… But that’s not something that should be lost or forgotten, especially in the city, let alone in our country.”

If there’s a silver lining for Nyman, it’s that October 1 reinforced his resolve to renormalize large gatherings and experience the elation that comes with communal musical experiences. “I knew there was no way that night that person would take away my joy from attending live music and hosting events,” he says, the challenge in his voice. “It’s one of the things in this world that I believe connects us all… And that part won’t happen if I give up. There was no way I would give up. » Φ

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