Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Establishes $1.5 Million COVID Fund For Artists And Venues

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a vibrant roots music scene hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its most visible showcase and proponent is now taking applications from regional artists for The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Relief Fund: Bay Area. The $1.5 million charitable effort that includes a $450,000 component for direct relief and support for individual musicians and local music venues and their workers.

Created by Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, the effort seeks to “recognize, appreciate, and care for the people who lend their creativity, heart, and hard work to the American roots music ecosystem in the Bay Area,” according to a statement.

The fund includes $450,000 for individual musicians’ relief and additional support for local music venues and their workers.

Individual grants are available to roots musicians living full-time in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, or Sonoma counties. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. PDT. Applicants will be notified about their award status by Sept. 25, followed immediately by the disbursement of funds.

“Our fund for roots music musicians, in the form of grants up to $2,000 in unrestricted funds, is available to all but will give priority to Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color,” says Frances Hellman, one of the directors of the Hellman Foundation and daughter of late HSB founders Warren and Chris Hellman. “This is not only because these communities have been historically under-funded by philanthropy, but also because they have been adversely affected by the pandemic.”

Since 2011 the Hellman Foundation has focused on supporting local organizations and homegrown initiatives in the Bay Area, while bolstering the impact of partner organizations and engaging in strategic public-private partnerships such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

The Fund will be administered by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) and the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI). CCI has a longstanding practice of prioritizing those who have been marginalized in the conventional arts and culture field. They have mobilized their many years of expertise in supporting individuals to facilitate COVID relief funds for artists, and have successfully worked with the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the State of California, on COVID relief. Both ACTA and CCI bring their long commitment and experience as grantmaking intermediaries supporting individual artists and cultural communities towards advancing racial and cultural equity.

“This music relief effort recognizes the impact of artists whose roots music reflects the expressions, histories, and values of their communities,” says Amy Kitchener, co-founder and executive director of Alliance for California Traditional Arts. “In these pandemic times, supporting artists also acknowledges the deep impact musicians have on cultural continuity.”

According to a statement, “the fund’s definition of American roots music acknowledges that the landscape of music in the United States has evolved from a wide variety of musical genres and peoples. Broadly, roots music is shaped by the American social, cultural, and environmental landscape. Roots music is characterized by its deep connection to people and the communities, reflecting a sense of place, history, values, language, and aesthetics.”

In addition to the musician grant program, The Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund includes a grant program for Bay Area music venues with a track record of presenting American Roots styles. The nomination process for venues is now closed with funding announcements being made soon.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass will celebrate its 20th year despite COVID knocking out its usual free gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park that has historically drawn as many as 750,000 music fans over the first weekend in October. Instead of an in-person event, Let The Music Play On will take place as a virtual festival with live performances and archived highlights over its history, as well as video and photographs contributed by fans, and be livestreamed as Hardly Strictly Broadcast Oct. 2-4. Performers will be announced shortly.

For more information on the individual musicians grant opportunity and to apply, visit ACTA’s website.

For more information on the venue grant opportunity, visit the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass website.