Treefort Festival Director Eric Gilbert isn’t just a part of the Boise music scene: He cares about it, and as he saw the pandemic financially affecting all aspects of the industry, he and the other organizers behind Treefort decided to take action.
“I’ve been having conversations with other cities about supporting music ecosystems. There’s a lot of different pieces that go into making the music industry work,” said Gilbert. “If artists survive the crisis but music infrastructure doesn’t, there’s a lot to be concerned with.”
Treefort is a big part of the music scene in Boise and when COVID-19 hit, the organization began brainstorming ways to support the community it serves. It created the Treefort Live Music Relief Fund to help musicians and also collaborated with the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts and the Boise City Department of Arts & History to establish the Covid Cultural Commissioning Fund (CCC Fund) that is available to all artists.
The Treefort Live Music Relief Fund supports the local live music scene holistically, providing emergency relief funding for anybody working in the scene. That includes artists, musicians, techs, tour managers, audio and lighting engineers, production managers and anyone else in the industry.
To be eligible applicants must have lived in the Boise area for the past two years, be active in live music activities as a primary source of income, demonstrate proof of loss of income due to COVID-19, receive taxable income, are age 18 or older and provide proof of past performances. Applications are on the Treefort website.
The CCC Fund is a collaboration of Treefort, The Morrison Center and the Boise City Department of Arts and History. Artists from all genres are encouraged to apply and those awarded the fund receive a one-time $1,000 commission to create art that explores, documents or reflects upon the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on society. Applications opened April 29 and close Friday, May 8.
Terri Schorzman, the Director of the Boise City Department of Arts and History, said its a valuable partnership that presents an interesting opportunity for artists.
“As a historian I’m always looking at ways to document and tell a story,” said Schorzman. “It curates a time of life and we can see that the human condition doesn’t change. Often we see creativity flourish under stressful times.”
The Boise City Department of Arts and History will curate the collection, with the idea that artists can express what they feel and share it. The hope is that at some point the collection can be showcased and people can look back on this particular time in history.
It’s an ambitious project, and it helped that The Morrison Center is on board. The Morrison Center, along with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and ExtraMile Arena, have lent support to the fund, and none of the money will be used for overhead costs. It all goes to artists.
“We are thrilled to partner with Treefort and the city,” said the Executive Director of The Morrison Center Laura Kendall. “It was truly a collaborative effort and super vital to the artists in our community. It’s about us giving back and saying we see you, we miss you and we want you to get through this."
Kendall said there was a lot of conversation centered around how it must be difficult to be creative in dire public health and economic circumstances, and the facility wanted artists to know that “even if they’re having a hard time, creating the grant is about awarding who they are as an artist.”
Gilbert hopes the funds have an impact and Treefort can establish a crisis support system. He said the organization has pushed for just such a system, and it wants Boise to be the kind of place that creative and musical people want to live in and can afford.
People can also donate individually. The CCC fund uses The Cauze app and a generous donor is matching donations. The more money the fund raises, the more artists it can help. In addition, Mother Earth Brew Co., the brewer of the Fresh AF Ale at Treefort, has also agreed to donate. The company has canned the beer that would be used at the Festival and will contribute all sales to the relief fund. Only 120 cases are available, and people can buy the beer at the Boise Co-op and other local retailers.
“For the local music industry the (COVID-19) crisis has been bad, and there’s a lot of people hurting from the artists to the blue-collar workers,” said Gilbert. “We hope they apply and we hope we can help. Without supporting the music ecosystem, musicians can’t thrive by supporting the whole system. We see it as supporting artists.”