“It’s time to get back to the music

There is an uplifting sense of community in recent days and weeks as we start to see more and more of our neighbors.

That camaraderie captures the spirit of one of the very first grants from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln toward realizing the goals of The Next 10 – a collaborative community engagement effort for the Greater Springfield Area to define how we take bold steps together for our region’s future. Working to reignite local entertainment by supporting artists’ performances in our community’s restaurants, pubs and venues, the program is appropriately called ‘Back to the Music.’

Every facet of society has felt the brunt of the pandemic the last 15 months, although artists have particularly felt its affliction. With the inability to perform for crowds, Illinois artists and performers experienced a 66% unemployment rate during the pandemic as reported by Arts Alliance Illinois. A $25,000 grant to the Springfield Area Arts Council directly addresses revitalization of local culture as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Back to the Music program addresses a key tenet of The Next 10, furthering the mission of Project #4: A Culturally Rich Community. Not only does this provide economic relief for artists and businesses, but also it revitalizes our culture to bring life and energy to our community. To see the full Visioning Report and learn more about The Next 10, visit TN10.org.

Working with artists across a multitude of genres and backgrounds, the Springfield Area Arts Council is identifying nearly 50 area musicians through its extensive roster to perform in local venues for the program. It provides payment to local artists for performances and gives relief for businesses and venues normally investing hard-earned profits to boost attendance and/or bring in new patrons.

With musicians empowered to approach venues, it provides freedom to local artists to create their own shows. Local musicians – like Virgil Rhodes and Jazz by Footprints or Josie Lowder – can support venues that have supported them in the past or showcase their talents to a new audience.

“Not only were gallery and venue owners safeguarding the public, but also they were cautious regarding their visual and performing artists,” said Sheila Walk, executive director of Springfield Area Arts Council.

“Now that it has become safe to reopen galleries and venues, some assistance is needed. Just as other small businesses received aid during the pandemic, we turn our attention toward community arts. This generous grant will help us get Back to the Music.”

It’s the kind of win-win that the Arts Council and the Community Foundation strive to create – something positive for local artists and businesses and for an eager public awaiting live music.

Stay tuned to the Springfield Area Arts Council’s website and social media to see when and where artists will perform.

Artists lend extraordinary texture and creativity to our community. Let’s show our support to artists as they beautify and enliven Greater Springfield.

To learn more about the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln or The Next 10, visit CFLL.org or call 217.789.4431.”

From Aren Dow, “It’s time to get back to the music,” State Journal-Register, July 4, 2021 (https://www.sj-r.com/story/lifestyle/columns/2021/07/04/community-foundation-its-time-get-back-music/7848826002/)