Singers belted out duets from the front yard of a Northwest Austin home Saturday, as an audience of about 30 physically distanced neighbors watched from the lawn and across the street.
The president of Austin Artists Project and one of the singers, Mela Sarajane Dailey, said the free concert gave the six singers an opportunity to perform, even though they weren't getting paid.
“We, as musicians, this is what we know how to do; we know how to do concerts,” she said. “And it hurts us, not just financially, but it hurts us on a soul level to not be of use at this time.”
The nonprofit recorded the 30-minute performance to share online to help raise money for artists who can’t work because of venue closures.
“We’re worried for our colleagues who have been out of work and will continue to be out of work until things open back up,” Dailey said. “And 2,400-seat halls [will be] the last to open back up.”
Austin Artists Project is also offering $500 grants to artists to record a 20-minute performance from their homes. Artists may be paired to create an online performance together.
“We’re embracing the beautiful diversity of artists in Austin and bringing together people from East Austin, West, South, North – all the different parts and all the different artistic disciplines in the city to create new art works,” singer Kevin Little said.
“So, sometimes we might have a DJ and a dancer from Ballet Austin [or] a cellist and a visual artist,” Dailey said.
All the recordings will be free to the public.
The grants also have a community service aspect: Recipients are asked to participate in Project LiveNotes, where musicians perform over voice or video calls for people in hospice, hospitals, nursing homes or the like.
Dailey said she plans to continue the front yard concert series, though her nonprofit isn't promoting the locations in advance, so as not to draw a large crowd that makes physical distancing difficult.
Maggie Kahn said she would have been disappointed if she had missed Saturday's performance.
“Where would I get this? A concert hall. Welcome to your concert hall,” she said, indicating the lawn around her.
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