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MasquerAid: Concert, celebration to benefit the Artist Relief Fund

Submitted to The Union

Nevada County Arts Council announces MasquerAid, a free benefit concert on Sunday, July 25, at Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Produced by Paul Emery and supported by the Agle Family Trust, attendees can expect a celebration of the very best music, presented in partnership with three favorite local bands Achilles Wheel, Earles of Newtown and Sugar Mountain.

The evening begins with a reception, a no-host bar and access to the Granucci Gallery’s Off The Wall exhibition, then a three-act concert in the Center’s newly transformed auditorium – with general seating and plenty of space to dance.

“Last summer, at the height of the pandemic, we presented WHAT A RELIEF!, an online festival raising funds for our local professional artists through our Artist Relief Fund,” said Eliza Tudor, executive director at Nevada County Arts Council. “This year, we are thrilled to be working with the Center to co-present MasquerAid, which supports this fund through the slow re-opening of California.”

“The events of the last year challenged our community in many ways, including a suspension of our opportunities to celebrate together,” said John and Audry Agle, who through their family trust are sponsoring MasquerAid. “It is our honor and privilege to support the efforts of the MasquerAid artists and staff. We’re very grateful to the Center for donating the venue, and hope attendees will give generously to the Artist Relief Fund. Let’s join hands and minds, and march together into a future we share.”

Nevada County Arts Council and a coalition of local arts organizations launched the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund last summer and by year end had been able to support close to thirty artists across all disciplines. This year, the Council and its partners want to remind the public that it’s still possible to contribute to the fund in support of professionals working in the field of the performing, literary and visual arts.

“MasquerAid is all about our enjoyment of live music from some of our most cherished local performing artists,” said Amber Jo Manuel, executive director at the Center for the Arts. “We are grateful to the Agle Family Trust for supporting this special celebration, and are happy to offer it free of charge to a community hungry for togetherness. At the same time, we hope everyone will reach into their pockets and give generously in support of our artists.”

A special feature of MasquerAid will be the presence of two key members of the community who have played important roles at particular moments in the Center’s evolution. Jon Blinder served the Center’s board of directors from 1999 through 2010, and as its board president from 2000 to 2007. Paul Emery, producer for MasquerAid, served during this time as the Center’s executive director. Says Blinder, who is now Nevada County Arts Council’s board president: “While making this great concert available to all, several generations of the Center’s leadership is coming together with Nevada County Arts Council for the benefit of our artists and our community.”

The goal is to raise $10,000 both in the run up and during MasquerAid, and these funds will then be made available for local performing artists to apply for micro-grants.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Paul Emery. “From the moment the doors open, there’ll be so much to enjoy – from the Center’s brand new space, to the no-host bar, the Granucci Gallery’s show and mingling with friends during the reception, to relishing the great music from the comfort of our seats or shaking a leg on the Center’s incredible new dance floor. Personally, I can’t wait to hear Achilles Wheel, Earles of Newtown and Sugar Mountain performing once again at the Center after such a long closure.”

The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. Since the first U.S. case was reported in January 2020, cancellations and closings took place for thousands of arts organizations across the country, with two-thirds of the nation’s artists unemployed by late spring.

Now, according to the 2021 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, total creative-sector job losses in California are estimated at 175,360. And since California represents the biggest creative economy in the U.S., the results can be seen as indicative of broader nationwide trends. Adding to this grim picture, two studies published by Californians for the Arts have found that a large number of creative workers are considering relocating from California in the absence of additional economic aid.

“Let’s not allow this to happen here in Nevada County,” said Tudor. “Our creative sector is a formidable industry in its own right – an industry that prior to the pandemic drove annual revenues of close to $47m in economic activity. Let’s keep this sector healthy, support our local professional artists, and be part of the solution as our California Cultural Districts here help drive our community’s overall recovery.”


WHAT: MasquerAid – A benefit concert and celebration to support the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund

WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 W Main St, Grass Valley, CA 95945

WHEN: Sunday, July 25 – Doors open at 5 p.m., Music starts at 6:30 p.m.

COST: Free (donations welcomed)

MORE INFO: Register to attend MasquerAid! at nevadacountyarts.org/masquer-aid Support Nevada County artists at nevadacountyarts.org/artist-relief-fund

Achilles Wheel is a California band that blurs the lines between genres with a mix of dance beats and lyrical ballads.
Provided photo
Earles of Newtown are an Electric Gypsy Jazz band cross-pollinating both vintage and modern beat culture. This Vaudevillian inspired musical circus is comprised of an eight-piece wrecking crew of heavy hitters recruited throughout Northern California.
Photo by Waking Crow
Sugar Mountain, the Northern California duo consisting of vocalists Karen Woerner and Cassidy Joy, brings you music from multiple decades and genres. Karen and Cassidy have been playing together and individually for the past six years.
Photo by john Taber

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