A helping hand: Local organizations join together to support artists
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
WHAT: What a Relief! fundraiser and virtual festival
WHO: Nevada County Arts Council, local organizations, local artists
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 22 WHERE: Virtual
California has long been an epicenter for the arts — galleries, music festivals, poetry readings, and dance exhibitions fill the cities from LA to the Oregon border — and certainly Nevada County. But with the recent COVID-19 related shutdowns, the artist community has taken a big hit. Without the usual flood of summer festivals, gallery openings, and art conventions, artists new and old have struggled to survive and more than two-thirds are now unemployed.
In Nevada County alone there has been an estimated total financial loss for arts organizations of $10,000,000, a number cited in Nevada County Arts Councils’ recent survey on the early economic impacts of COVID-19 in Nevada County. This is only part of an estimated $4.98 billion national financial losses to nonprofit arts organizations since the onset of the pandemic.
Confronted by this striking problem, the Nevada County Arts Council has risen to the rescue for local artists. Led by Executive Director Eliza Tudor, the Nevada County Arts Council created What a Relief! — an online festival dedicated to raising money for the Nevada County Artist Relief fund, which will in turn make the funds available to the artists via micro-grants.
“(With) art events, concerts, and productions canceled in venues across the county due to the effects of COVID-19, professional artists whose livelihoods are dependent on these events are facing insurmountable losses” says Tudor. “Our role continues to be both to point artists towards the very best funding and support resources and to advocate for support for artists, both locally and at the level of the state.”
The festival will also be supported by other local art organizations, including The Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, the Nevada City Film Festival, InConcert Sierra, Music in the Mountains, Community Asian Theater of the Sierra (CATS), Sierra Stages, Trails and Truckee’s Vistas and InnerRhythms Dance.
“What a Relief! mimics a live festival where — just as if you attended in person — you can expect to see your favorite performers and presenters all in one place,” Tudor explained.
Each artist will have a chance to showcase their individual performances during the festival and spread messages of hope to the community through video concerts or digital galleries.
There is already an impressive lineup of creators, with the list growing every day, including renowned local artist and gallery owner LeeAnn Brook, Blues Rock guitarist Roy Rogers, the band Velvet Foxes, Grammy nominated classical guitarist Gyan Riley, playwright Sands Hall, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Forrest Gander, film director Cheryl Haines, and many others.
“Like many other performing musicians, I had dozens of concerts canceled — everything in 2020,” says guitarist Gyan Riley. “Being stripped of your livelihood as a performer is super depressing.
“After getting over the initial shock of that,” Riley continues, “I decided to record an album in quarantine called ‘shelter in space.’ I guess one of the only good things to come of the COVID-era is having more time for composing and recording.”
What a Relief! is also helping artists find hope amongst the destruction. Riley will be performing a short guitar solo from the comfort of his home but will get to experience the thrill of performing for crowds — and their financial support — once again.
“We feel we have a responsibility to both share with the world our resilience, and ensure our artists are not simply tasked with providing the benefit to others,” says Tudor. “Now is a time for giving back to our artists — even as we continue to enjoy everything our artists bring during these dark times.”
Artists will also be making their wares available for purchase. “If you buy an album and you like it, or just like the work of an artist in general,” Riley says, “Tell all your friends and post about it with links on social media. This is a great way to get money moving towards the artist while promoting their career.”
With its incredible lineup of artists and powerful mission (not to mention possibility to grab those early Christmas presents for friends, family, or yourself!) What a Relief! is set to be a memorable event. Come show your support and join the fun this weekend from the comfort of your own home — and don’t forget to bring the snacks!
For more information on What a Relief! or to register to attend, go to https://www.nevadacountyarts.org/what-a-relief. The online event will be happening from noon until 8 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 22, and anyone can register to attend with a donation of $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, or more. The Nevada County Arts Council hopes to raise $40,000 to support these local creators.
Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union and Prospector.
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