Grass Valley, CA, August 7, 2020: 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 on August 22 featuring over 30 performances by musicians, artists, actors, etc., on their YouTube channel and Facebook page. The festival is called WHAT A RELIEF!

This online festival is not only an incredible show of pride and solidarity for our arts community, but also provides entertainment and enjoyment for all of us who have missed seeing our 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. 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,” says Eliza Tudor, Executive Director of the Nevada County Arts Council.

A stunning lineup of artists and arts advocates have been assembled for the event including 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 (CATS), poet Maxima Kahn, an array of actors from Sierra Stages, and many more!

“The outpouring from artists wanting to participate has been incredible,” says 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 two-thirds of the nation’s artists are now unemployed. 

Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts organizations are estimated to be $4.98 billion, to date. They have also lost 208 million admissions due to cancelled events, resulting in a $6.6 billion loss in event-related spending by audiences (restaurants, lodging, retail). The economic impact of these losses is $1.9 billion in lost government revenue and 328,000 jobs no longer being supported.

These numbers mirror those in Nevada County. 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 devasting 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,” says 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.”

Nevada County Arts Council is grateful to the expanding cohort of local arts organizations from across the county who are part of the coalition to raise funds for artists. So, far, these 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,” says 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!”

List of participating artists in all disciplines as of August 7, 2020

Roy Rogers, blues rock slide guitarist
Alasdair Fraser, Scottish fiddler and composer
Cheryl Haines, gallerist, film director and producer
Gyan Riley, Grammy nominated classical guitarist
Forrest Gander, Pulitzer prize-winning poet
Daniel Reeves, Emmy award-winning experimental film pioneer
Secret Agent 23 skidoo, Grammy award-winning hip hop artist
Shelly Covert, Nevada City Rancheria 
Molly Fisk, Nevada County Poet Laureate
Velvet Foxes, with singers Lorraine Gervais, Alvetta Newby-Jones and Cassidy Joy
Leeann Brook, artist
Sands Hall, author, musician and playwright
Maxima Kahn, poet and essayist
Izzy Tooinsky, performance artist
Brett Shady, musician
Peter Wilson, musician
Micah Cone, award-winning actor and musician
Honey of the Heart, musicians
Sarah Coleman, artist
Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS)

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, 12-noon-8pm