Gabriel Bey of Local 586 (Phoenix, AZ), longtime arts promoter and union committee outreach chair, came up with an idea to bolster the Phoenix arts community during the pandemic. With a grant from the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF), he and Sandra Bassett, also of Local 586, created a special live-streamed concert series to celebrate the city’s vibrant, diverse music scene.
As president and CEO of West Valley Arts, Bassett was in the perfect position to promote the project. West Valley Arts was already recognized as an inclusive, multidisciplinary organization, which serves a broad audience through public art and education. The new series, “Imprint: The Cultural Sounds of America,” only strengthens their goals. The concerts, which opened in February for Black History Month, celebrated the diversity and multiculturalism of the community by showcasing a variety of local jazz and blues musicians. Live-streamed performances were hosted by the Westside Blues and Jazz Club in Glendale, Arizona.
Bassett says, “It was [Gabriel’s] vision to bring different genres of music to the community and to give musicians a safe place to play during these difficult times.”
Local 586 is one of several intrepid unions that has presented admission-free, live music on the MPTF’s Facebook streaming platform. To date, more than 600 events have been delivered in this manner, bringing the joy of live jazz, chamber, folk, country, and other musical genres to homebound North American audiences during the pandemic. Events can be found on the Music Performance Trust Fund Facebook events page. Funding to present live music via this format will continue even as more in-person events return this year.
Their series wrapped up at the end of April, but Bassett says, “As we move slowly toward some semblance of normalcy—but keeping in mind the challenges still posed by the coronavirus pandemic—we want to be able to provide live performance opportunities with musicians who have been significantly affected by the pandemic.” She adds, “What better to lift our spirits than music?”