The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major challenge for local, community-based LGBTQ arts organizations to adapt.

Georgia Voice contacted several LGBTQ arts organizations that have received grants, which will help support them financially through the pandemic. These include Out on Film, Voices of Note, and Atlanta Freedom Bands.

Jim Farmer, the Director of Out On Film, explained the grants his organization received to help support it during the pandemic: “Out On Film has been approved for a $50,000 grant as part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, which was approved by Congress for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to award to arts organizations across the country. The funding is specifically for facilities and salaries.”

“We have also been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts,” he said. “The money is going to go to facilities and salaries. It’ll help us transition to being online … Going from in-person festivals to online festivals is a lot of work. It’s just a different concept.”

Meanwhile, Voices of Note received a $40,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Atlanta Freedom Bands received a $6,000 grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Both organizations have plans for upcoming online events, but face challenges unique to performing as a group at a time when gatherings would be irresponsibly dangerous.

Socially distanced concerts require more than just recording music and putting it online. Since singers and other musicians cannot safely perform in the same place at the same time, they all have to record their parts separately, and these separate recordings have to be stitched together and edited to form a cohesive musical performance.

Georgia Voice interviewed Eve Campbell, the Executive Director of Voices of Note, to find out more about how her organization is transitioning to online concerts.

According to Campbell, “Because of COVID-19, [Voices of Note has] had to adapt and quickly learn the technology and acquire the skills to continue to present our mission to our audience through virtual programming.”

The success of Voices of Note’s adaptation to online events has been evident from their busy schedule. “Since COVID-19 we’ve had two major online concerts,” Campbell said. One was “cabaret style” and the other commemorated the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

Atlanta Freedom Bands has also been busy with their digital transition, but with fewer financial resources, have found it more challenging. Cliff Norris, their development director, spoke with Georgia Voice about Atlanta Freedom Bands’ plans for future events.

“Like a lot of music groups, there’s a lot of wait and see … There are thirty other LGBTQ bands around the country and we’re all trying to figure out the best ways to [go forward], because not only can we not gather our audiences together, we can’t gather ourselves together.”

Atlanta Freedom Bands are currently looking into expanding their ability to edit together online performances.

All three organizations have plans in place to weather the pandemic and emerge in good condition afterward.

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