Donner selected as CEO for Life is Beautiful festival

Andrew Donner, the real estate developer responsible for most of Downtown Project’s property acquisitions, has been named CEO of the Life is Beautiful music-food-art festival, which took place in downtown Las Vegas in October.

Eve Cohen, who headed operations last year, will be managing director.

Festival founder and partner Rehan Choudry said the festival’s inaugural success has allowed the staff to grow. He expects to hire “a few more key positions” in the next eight months to a year.

The Life is Beautiful’s full-time staff is composed of 13 people, but the number of employees swells to about 2,000 during the festival.

“We’re booking fast and furiously, exploring different ways to look at the festival footprint,” Choudry said of the lineup, which should be announced this summer.

Donner is a partner in Life is Beautiful and owns Resort Gaming Group, the hospitality and development company responsible for the purchase and transformation of the old Las Vegas city hall into Zappos headquarters.

Donner bought the Lady Luck in 2005 with plans to remake it but later sold it to CIM Group, which reopened the property in November as the Downtown Grand.

Cohen has worked on the New York City Food and Wine festival since 2008 and became the festival’s associate director in 2013. Cohen will move to Las Vegas on Feb. 1 and join Life is Beautiful full time.

“I could not be more thrilled to join the Life is Beautiful team,” Donner said. “The festival’s first year was a watershed moment for downtown Las Vegas. It proved that Rehan’s vision was right both in its scope and timing. Now we are all excited to focus on next year and taking the Life is Beautiful brand to the next level.”

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3809. Follow @kristy_tea on Twitter.