Online festival to benefit Nevada County artists

Sierra Sun staff
The WHAT A RELIEF! Online art festival will take place Saturday, Aug. 22, fromm noon until 8 p.m.
Courtesy photo


WHO: Nevada County Arts Council presents

WHAT: WHAT A RELIEF! - An Online Arts Festival to Support the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund

WHERE: Nevada County Arts Council’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Live

WHEN: Saturday, August 22, noon-8 p.m.


To support professional artists in all disciplines whose livelihoods have been devastated by the impacts of COVID-19, Nevada County Arts Council and a coalition of local arts organizations have launched the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund.

To help jumpstart donations and raise awareness for the fund, Nevada County Arts Council is presenting an online festival called WHAT A RELIEF! on Saturday, Aug. 22, from noon to 8 p.m., featuring more than 30 performances by musicians, artists, and actors on its YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The online festival not only will feature a show of pride and solidarity for our arts community, but also provides entertainment and enjoyment for those who have missed seeing their favorite theater group or band perform in the last few months, or who have missed walking into a gallery or going to the movies.

“Before COVID-19 we could all go downtown any night of the week to experience an array of live music, theatrical and dance performances and film,” said Eliza Tudor, executive director of the Nevada County Arts Council. “The pandemic has created a gaping hole in all of lives. This event is a wonderful reminder of how much the arts and local artists mean to us,”

The lineup of artists and arts advocates that have been assembled include classical guitarist Gyan Riley, filmmaker and gallerist Cheryl Haines, experimental film pioneer Daniel Reeves, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Forrest Gander, Grammy Award-winning family hip hop musician Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, best-selling author and musician Sands Hall, award-winning performance artist Izzi Tooinsky, renowned visual artist LeeAnn Brook, Community Asian Theater of the Sierra poet Maxima Kahn, an array of actors from Sierra Stages, and many more!

“The outpouring from artists wanting to participate has been incredible,” said Jesse Locks one of the event’s organizers and a board member of Nevada County Arts Council. “I can’t recall any event that has brought this many Nevada County artists together in one place. It’s going to be a delight to watch.” The goal is to raise $20,000 during the online festival. These funds will then be made available for local artists to apply for micro-grants.

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 are taking place for thousands of arts organizations across the country, and, according to an April study done by advocacy group Americans for the Arts, two-thirds of the nation’s artists had reported being unemployed.

In late March, Nevada County Arts Council issued an independent survey to determine the severity of the local situation. During March-April alone 80% of individual artists surveyed reported devastating losses, while arts organizations estimated total financial losses of up to $10,000,000 as a result of COVID-19.

“Artists are in many ways our cultural first responders. We look to them to help with fundraising and supporting other non-profits and civic groups. We also look to them for a source of inspiration and entertainment in hard times. This is one way we show them our support and thank them for all that they do to make our community unique, vibrant and a beautiful place to live,” said Locks.

“Now is the moment to support our local professional artists. We want our creative sector to be in the best shape possible, given daunting and uncertain circumstances, as we pull through this public health crisis as a community, not least because data clearly shows that we will be in the hot seat driving our economy through to happier times.”

The art organizations that are part of the coalition to raise funds for artists include Nevada City Film Festival, The Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, Music in the Mountains, InConcert Sierra, CATS, Sierra Stages, Neighborhood Center for the Arts, Trails and Vistas, InnerRhythms Dance, Truckee Arts Alliance and Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus.

“It speaks reams that our longest standing arts organizations – themselves battling to survive and thrive – are so supportive of our artists,” said Jon Blinder, Board President at Nevada County Arts Council. “It points to the healthy respect of one part of our sector for another, and the knowledge we all share that the arts have a critical role to play in driving our economy beyond COVID-19. What’s good for the arts is good for us all.”

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