Held during the week that ordinarily would have been the heart of the South by Southwest Music Festival, local music patron organization Black Fret’s five-day "Austin Love & Lightstream" series of livestreamed performances drew enough donations from the community and beyond to raise $25,000 for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, the event’s organizers announced Tuesday.
More than two dozen Austin acts took part in the March 17-21 event, which also raised $18,000 that was paid directly to the performers. In addition, Black Fret announced at the end of the event that they were sending all $250,000 allotted to its 2019 grant recipients immediately, bypassing the usual "unlocking" process of delivering the funds after acts completed tasks such as releasing an album or touring.
Since its founding in 2014, Black Fret has awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to Austin musicians. Black Fret members pay an annual fee for yearlong access to special performances by local acts; plans are in the works to convert the 2020 program to virtual-concert events.
"HAAM is honored to receive this gift from Black Fret," said executive director Reenie Collins. "This is a time of great challenge and uncertainty for all non-profits, but especially so for our music community, which makes this gift even more significant."
Black Fret co-founder Matthew Ott says the organization will be re-releasing video performances from the Love & Lighstream event soon, "in the hopes it will bring them some joy while hopefully continuing to raise money for the Austin music scene." Already posted to YouTube are performances at the event by Austin bands Ley Line, Trouble in the Streets and Los Coast:
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