Culture is the manifestation of our collective creativity across art, music, food, design, and more. It’s how we interpret the world, how we celebrate the risk-takers, the trailblazers, the move-makers. Through Culture Lives Herewe’ll be highlighting talented individuals we believe are shifting something within today’s cultural landscape.

Stay tuned, we’re just getting started.

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what is culture?

Culture is an intriguing, exciting manifestation of art, music, fashion, design, food, drink creativity. We crave its energy and seek the connections it inspires. Culture impacts the way we see the world and the way we engage with each other, and Thompson Hotels curates the best of it in each of its destinations.

who are the culture shifters?

Culture Shifters are both well-known and emerging talent who are shifting culture in today’s generation. The individuals who have been chosen to represent Thompson Hotels as culture shifters have made meaningful impacts on culture through both their work and personalities.

thompson hotels x culture

20 years ago, Thompson Hotels was founded as more than just a hotel brand – it was an arbiter of culture, curating what was cool and noteworthy within its walls. Today, we are honoring our roots in culture and elevating it even more by supporting creators we believe uphold the standards of what Thompson has always been – an epicenter of culture.

meet the culture shifters

Josef Adamu

Josef Adamu [NYC]

He/Him | Creative Director



Josef Adamu is a Creative Director and Consultant born and raised in Toronto, though now based in New York. In 2017, he founded a brand agency named Sunday School Creative that caters to the development of creative campaigns and content marketing for various brands. Adamu’s work can be found through the streams of Facebook, Nike, Spotify, Converse, amongst many others. The passion Adamu expresses through each opportunity continues to evolve as he establish new relationships and put his best foot forward.

New York

Live Theatre Performance @ Thompson Central Park Featuring Daniel J. Watts &…

Daniel Watts

Daniel J. Watts [NYC]

He/Him | Actor/Writer



Daniel J. Watts is a Tony and Emmy Award nominated multidisciplinary artist based in NYC. He has appeared in ten Broadway shows including Hamilton, Memphis, TINA and After Midnight. Watts is an artist in residence at ASU Gammage, A Louis Armstrong House Museum contributing artist, and also serves as an adjunct professor of NYU’s Tisch New Studio.

He received the Barrymore Award (Peoples Light) and the LA Ovation Award (Geffen Playhouse) for Best Featured Actor for his portrayal of Sammy Davis, Jr. in “Lights Out: Nat King Cole” opposite Dulé Hill.  TV credits include Season 3 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, Seasons 1 & 2 of “The Last OG”, “Blindspot”, & “Vinyl”.

New York

Live Theatre Performance @ Thompson Central Park Featuring Daniel J. Watts &…

Joshua Steen

Joshua Steen [LA]

He/Him | Filmmaker



Joshua Steen is a director & cinematographer based in LA/New York City.  He works internationally to create music, beauty, fashion & commercial videos for brands such as Quest Love, Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey, Italian Vogue, V Magazine, Jaguar, Coca-Cola, H&M, & UNIQLO.

His work features a unique and fluid aesthetic, precise palette, and unexpected whimsy. Focusing on the story to support and drive brand identity, and using space, time and sound, Joshua crafts engaging visuals & memorable worlds.

Los Angeles

Film Screening @ Thompson Hollywood Featuring Maud Arnold & Joshua Steen

Maud Arnold

Maud Arnold [LA]

She/Her | Choreographer



Maud is a member of the all-female Tap dance band, Syncopated Ladies, widely known for their viral videos with over 100 million views online and performing worldwide.  Maud is a sought-out teacher, judge, choreographer, and performer worldwide. Some of her credits include: Good Morning America, The Ellen Show, The Late Late Show With James Corden, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Maud is the podcast host of “The Maudcast” and releases new episodes weekly wherever podcasts are streamed! She can also be seen in the new Apple TV+ musical film Spirited starring Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer.

Los Angeles

Film Screening @ Thompson Hollywood Featuring Maud Arnold & Joshua Steen

Loreal Sarkisian

Loreal Sarkisian [Austin]

She/Her | Stylist



Loreal was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida in a fashion forward family. Loreal’s desire to motivate and encourage others to be the best version of themselves was inspired by her parents. Her commitment to inspiring and empowering through timeless style is a key element of her mission. She is multifaceted, a stylist, philanthropist, business woman, speaker and wife to the Texas longhorns’ head football coach. Loreal is known as the first lady of Texas football.

Los Angeles

Film Screening @ Thompson Hollywood Featuring Maud Arnold & Joshua Steen

Adrian Quesada

Adrian Quesada [Austin]

He/Him | Musician



Guitarist, songwriter, and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada is an adventurous musician best known as the co-founder of the Grammy nominated psychedelic soul band Black Pumas. A lifelong Texan, Quesada’s deep musical history has seen him producing and performing in projects spanning funk, soul, psychedelia, and diverse strands of Latin music – which is reflected in his latest projects “Boleros Psicodélicos” and “Jaguar Sound” both recently released


Fashion showcase with musical accompaniment. Featuring Adrian Quesada & Loreal Sarkisian.

Cam Kirk

Cam Kirk [Atlanta]

He/Him | Photographer



Atlanta-based for 13 years now, Cameron Kirkland—infamously known as Cam Kirk—has transformed the city into his throne. Cam picked up the camera for the first time over 10 years ago, around the same time he was attending Morehouse College for Business Marketing.

Getting his start working with iconic trap artists such as Gucci Mane, Migos, 21 Savage, Future, Young Thug, etc. in the iconic home of Hip-Hop. He is the founder of Cam Kirk Studios and Collective Gallery, both entities designed to serve and grow the creative community.


Film Screening @ Thomspon Atlanta–Buckhead Featuring Cam Kirk & Tunde Balogun

Tunde Balogun

Tunde Balogun [Atlanta]

He/Him | Music Executive



Tunde Balogun is a Co-Founder and President of LVRN.  LVRN is a next-generation Atlanta-based record label, music publishing company and management company founded in 2012.  LVRN manages some of the world’s top artists, including Summer Walker, 6Lack, Davido, and Westside Boogie, many of whom are also signed to the LVRN label and the publishing company.  LVRN’s mission is to facilitate exceptional artistry across all mediums of entertainment, bridging the gap between sub-culture and pop culture.


Film Screening @ Thomspon Atlanta–Buckhead Featuring Cam Kirk & Tunde Balogun

shift the culture with Thompson

Los Angeles

June 8, 2023

Film Screening @ Thompson Hollywood
Featuring Maud Arnold & Joshua Steen


Experience the premiere of The Bright Side, a short film co-directed by Los Angeles culture shifters: International Tap Star Maud Arnold and cinematographer and director Joshua Steen at Mes Amis, a French brasserie located within Thompson Hollywood. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion centered on how culture is evolving in today’s world and specifically how it’s being shaped in Los Angeles.


August 15, 2023

Fashion Presentation @ Thompson Austin

Featuring Loreal Sarkisian & Adrian Quesada


Discover new threads and deep beats with Austin culture shifters wardrobe stylist and philanthropist Loreal Sarkisian, and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, co-founder of American psychedelic soul band Black Pumas, where the two creatives team up to present a fashion showcase with music accompaniment.


September 18, 2023

Film Screening @ Thomspon Atlanta
Buckhead Featuring Cam Kirk & Tunde Balogun


Immerse in Atlanta’s diverse art and music scene with local culture shifters, world renowned photographer and creative entrepreneur, Cam Kirk, and Tunde Balogun, co-founder and president of Atlanta headquartered music label, LVRN, with a short film co-directed by the two tastemakers centered on Atlanta’s culture and their impact on the City’s rich history.

New York

November 30, 2023

Live Theatre Performance @ Thompson Central Park
Featuring Daniel J. Watts & Josef Adamu


Experience a captivating showcase from New York City culture shifters Daniel J. Watts, a Tony- and Emmy-nominated multidisciplinary artist, and Josef Adamu, creative director for Sunday School, which is an agency that focuses on educating through photography and film. Here, guests will enjoy a live performance centered on celebrating Black joy.

meet the past shifters

She/Her | Multifaceted Designer

Arielle Assouline Lichel

A multifaceted designer working in architectural, interactive, graphic, branding, and product design.In 2016, she founded Slash Objects, an award-winning collection of products and furniture which won Best of NYC DESIGN in 2018 and the American Design Honors in 2019. Arielle was recently awarded second place on Ellen DeGeneres'”Ellen’s Next Great Designer” show on HBOMax. For the Culture Lives Here campaign, Arielle’s installation.

He/Him | Fashion Designer

Charles Harbison

Charles Harbison is the fashion designer behind the eponymous brand Harbison, a comprehensive collection of womenswear. menswear, and accessories exploring the central themes of ease, modernity. culture, gender. and sustainability. Having dressed a slew of iconic celebrities and brands, from Beyonce, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ava Duvernay. design-directed contemporary brands like Ungaro in London.

He/Him | Artist


As a founding member of the respected LA Graffiti crews K2S, ST 8KGB, DEFER is a well-known graffiti artist who has created”sanctioned” works for exterior facades as well as interior gallery walls. DEFER moves easily between the worlds of street art and contemporary art, painting with a fluid hand style that juxtaposes colorful abstract gestures with his personal typography. Defer’s graffiti installation will result from a live.