AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Representatives from Armed Forces Entertainment flocked to Austin for the 2007 South by Southwest music and film festival with the mission of recruiting new talent for their tours that travel around the globe. The groups are not paid to participate, but all of their expenses are covered and they receive a per diem for food.
Col. Tamara Moes, the director of Armed Forces Entertainment, said her organization, which is always in need of more acts, planned and conducted 118 tours in 2006. This accounted for 1,433 shows. The festival, which took place March 8 to 18, attracted more than 1,200 musical groups.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for our program," she said in a statement. "It gives us an opportunity to come out and network with the artists that are performing."
In addition to musicians, Armed Forces Entertainment recruits comedians, cheer teams, dance squads, magicians and entertainers of all kinds. The entertainers can be sent to six different regions: Caribbean, Mediterranean, Europe, Balkans, Southwest Asia and the Pacific.
She said that each region looks for different types of acts. For example, in Southwest Asia, high-energy groups are preferred to keep the troops pumped up for their mission. There are some qualities that are necessary for all regions.
"First of all, we want to make sure the group represents America in a good light," Colonel Moes said. "We also look for groups that are good at interacting with the crowd, because that is such an important part of our shows."
Colonel Moes said her organization plays an important role in raising the morale of troops around the world.
"It is our job as Armed Forces Entertainment to rejuvenate the troops and bring them a little touch of home," she said. "For that bit of time they can forget they are away from their family, and it can just be a moment to relax."
George DeGrella is the regional entertainment coordinator for the Europe and Balkan regions. He said he finds it inspiring to work with the troops, and he takes pride in finding ways to improve his process of coordinating the tours. His favorite part of his job is watching a happy audience at the conclusion of a show.
"It's great and it motivates you to work harder on the next show," he said. "It is a process that takes a lot of teamwork and communication among multiple organizations and people. I feel that everyday we are making improvements in the way we do our business."
Armed Forces entertainment measures improvement by gathering feedback from service members that gave watched a performance. Colonel Moes said that feedback from military member is essential to improving their tours. Audience surveys located at www.armedforcesentertainment.com are especially helpful for her organization.
Colonel Moes said that she finds her work rewarding because she has an impact on so many different military members.
"We represent and are here for the troops," she said. "We want them to know that their sacrifices and hard work are not taken for granted."