Bluegrass Pride Wins Music Home Project Grant

Written by: Kara Kundert

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Bluegrass Pride has won a grant from the Music Home Project. This grant will be used in three ways: 

  1. Ensuring fair artist pay to all Bluegrass Pride performers in our 2020 season.
  2. Developing and circulating instructional guides to local leaders who want to bring Bluegrass Pride to their hometown.
  3. Creating a vetted nationwide directory of safe venues for Bluegrass Pride artists to perform.

Our mission is to support bluegrass, old-time, and traditional American musicians of all backgrounds and levels. In support of that mission, our priorities for 2020 are to create new local celebrations of Bluegrass Pride and to book more artists. As part of those processes, we hope to generate new materials and create opportunities for mentorship and professional development, both for community leadership and musicianship. 

Our goal is to ensure that no one feels that they are unable to pursue a career in traditional American music simply due to who they love. In order to do that, we must make sure that LGBT+ musicians are able to have stable careers in the scene. We aim to begin tackling this on two fronts: fair pay for all Bluegrass Pride-sponsored events, and the creation of resources to support LGBT musicians.

As we are a very young organization, we have so far had a hard time guaranteeing fair pay to all the bands we have worked with while also bringing in enough funds to cover our programming needs. While many musicians are passionate about the cause and willing to donate their time to our organization, we don’t think that’s something we should be asking of musicians as policy. Rather, we want to uplift musicians by providing them the money they’ll need to make ends meet as professional performers. We aim to guarantee all bands that we hire a minimum rate of $75/person for a concert performance, and $40/person for a showcase slot (e.g. our LGBT Musician Showcase at IBMA). Providing these guaranteed funds will help us to fulfill our mission to advance LGBT musicians in their careers, and help to create a pipeline of opportunity for talented LGBT musicians to grow in their careers and establish audiences of their own.

Additionally, our board has decided how new branches of Bluegrass Pride should be structured and organized in relation to the national organization, but we need to get that information out to the local leaders who want to take on that mantle.  We hope to create instructional guides to make sure that the process for establishing a new branch of Bluegrass Pride is streamlined, accessible, and transparent. We also intend to connect new local leaders with peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities with our veteran organizers in San Francisco and Portland so that they can develop the skills needed to maximize their impact in their communities.

Finally, given that we do not own a performance space, we believe the best way we can support artists is to connect them to opportunities that will help them build their careers and reach out to new audiences.  While we have many future plans for connecting artists with grants, foundations, and more, our intended first step is to create a directory of vetted venues amenable to hosting our artists. This directory would be hosted directly on our website, creating an open access tool for diverse artists to use when booking tours while maintaining their safety and connecting with friendly audiences. 

We are so grateful to the Music Home Project and its leadership for believing in our mission. This grant will be a powerful tool in helping continue to make bluegrass, old-time, and American roots music overall a more welcoming and inclusive place for all.

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