Austin creative turns birthday into fundraiser to help increase diversity in creative fields

Art of the Gala Oct 23 Austin

“Advertising doesn’t need another old, white guy,” said Brian Thompson, an Austin creative professional.

It can be tough to break into this business as a junior, he says,  and just as difficult to find longevity when ever-shrinking budgets clash with senior-level salaries.

Thompson is struggling with these issues in a uniquely public way. He’s turning 45 this month, but instead of cake, he’s asking for donations to help E4 Youth fund their programs that help diverse talent thrive in creative careers.

With a goal to raise $4,500 before his 45th birthday, Thompson launched the campaign on his business website,, as a way of confronting his own fear of aging out of the business. “Rather than wallowing, I decided to use my self-doubt to do some good,” Thompson said, “talking about age, race and gender is uncomfortable. But not talking about them is unconscionable.

E4 Youth is an Austin-based, non-profit organization that bridges the gap between underserved youth and creative careers. Through partnerships with schools and educators, E4 Youth identifies, nurtures, and promotes talent through training, mentoring and internships.

E4 Youth Executive Director, Carl Settles was pleasantly surprised when Thompson reached out about his birthday idea. “It’s good to have someone from the other side of the table discuss these issues,” Settles said. He also noted that the organization is fortunate to have the support of the creative community but is looking to expand their programs to reach more students.

To donate and learn more, visit

Art of the Gala Oct 23 Austin
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