The idea for Tom Tom was born from a home-grown Charlottesville native. After spending time in New York City for film and writing, Paul returned home in 2006 to work in his family’s construction business, R.L. Beyer Custom Homes. R.L. Beyer was formed in 1972 by Paul’s parents, Rick & Diana Beyer, and the company’s deep local roots informed many of Paul’s experiences in Charlottesville.
In 2011 at the age of 29, Paul ran for City Council, but lost by 31 votes. More importantly, during that time Paul also moved into the Pink Warehouse in downtown, which is something of an unofficial institution as Charlottesville’s creative incubator. Most notably, the Warehouse is where Dave Matthews had his first concert (on the roof), but it also where the alt weekly had their offices, and multiple generations of artists, designers and performers have resided. The madness presided over by an eccentric New Orleans born landlady, author, and antiques collector, Roulhac Toledano. It was all very quirky, random, and cosmopolitan, and thus, very Charlottesville.
Losing the Council race proved to be fortuitous. Throughout the campaign and in ensuing months, Paul hosted dozens of civic conversations about the future of the City and a regular concert series from his apartment. That melding of parties and creative dialogue proved to be the genesis of Tom Tom, as an event that combined community, celebrations, and an expansive visioning about the City and what was possible for its future.
Ideating in November 2011 from that apartment with dozens of musicians, artists, designers and creative volunteers, Tom Tom launched less than six months later. The 2012 Tom Tom was broadly scheduled over a month (April 13 – May 13), with broadly experimental programming (music, art, innovation, food), and culminated in a ticketed music festival that was broadly ambitious but broadly unsuccessful. Taking those knocks, Paul made the Festival a nonprofit, jettisoned any ticketed events, and focused on the community centric elements of the program. To the chagrin of Paul’s girlfriend, nearly two dozen Festival employees, coordinators and volunteers continued to operate out of Paul’s apartment for nearly 4 years.
Besides nonprofit status, the turning point came in 2013, when Paul was able to flesh out the idea at the U.Va’s i.Lab incubator as one of the first community businesses in their cohort. Working with faculty at the Darden School of Business, Paul engaged local entrepreneurs, artists and organizations. Since that time, the Festival has created lasting legacies: from permanent murals to new friendships and businesses forged.
When he isn’t party planning, Paul can be found on the squash court, at any number of downtown coffee shops or in his kitchen whipping up a feast for his staff and interns — who fortunately no longer work dawn to dusk in his apartment, but in an official office that is, yes, in the Pink Warehouse.
Paul also sits on the Board of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.