The long-running Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is shifting to a digital format this year and is now accepting applications from local musicians within the American roots music ecosystem in the Bay Area. The fund includes $450,000 for individual musicians’ relief and additional support for local music venues and their workers, part of a large $1.5 million charitable effort.

“As we were weighing what do, there was a sense that we had to do something this year and not just take 2020 off because of the pandemic,” says Mick Hellman, whose father investment banker Warren Hellman created the free bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park in 2001. “My family went all in on the festival following my father’s passing (in 2011) and the festival has grown to over 750,000 attendees each year and has touched people all over the world. Even though we can’t bring everyone together this year we wanted to create something that could act as that connective point.”

The individual grant program is open 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, 2020, at 5 p.m. Applicants will be notified about their award status by Sept 25, 2020, followed immediately by the disbursement of funds.

Musicians can apply for grants up to $2,000 in unrestricted funds, although Hellman said the program will prioritize musicians and artist who are Black, Indigenous and come from communities of color, which he says is a recognition of both the Black Lives Matter movement and growing concerns about inequality and injustice within the legal system.

The Fund will be administered by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) and the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI).  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.

To learn more and to apply, see here.


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