SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Hardly Strictly Bluegrass continues to support the music community during the Covid-19 pandemic with a new philanthropic effort aimed at immediate relief needs and more equitable recovery. Today, the world-renowned roots music festival reveals plans for a total of one million dollars in new grants shared between Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative's Esther's Orbit Room Cultural Revival Project and the Tenderloin Museum's "Sounds of the Tenderloin" project.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, HSB has prioritized supporting the local and national music community in this time of unprecedented need. Over the past two years, grants have totaled $4.1 million, including $550,000 raised from more than 3,000 generous donors during the broadcast of last year's joyful, quarantine-produced film "Let The Music Play On".

"It's clear that COVID-19, and the current spread of the Delta variant, continue to deeply affect our music communities, and that new support is needed," says Frances Hellman, one of the directors of the Hellman Foundation, which funds and oversees Hardly Strictly Bluegrass as part of the legacy of founder Warren Hellman. "We hope that these grants will not only provide some economic relief to the artists and workers who make live music possible, but also help to lift up some of the most highly-impacted neighborhoods as we begin to recover from this historically challenging period."

The new grants respond to the current needs of the music community at this point in the pandemic: direct funding for vulnerable community members via Sweet Relief Musicians Fund; and forward-looking support for new projects promoting a more equitable recovery in the underserved, culturally-rich Bay Area neighborhoods of West Oakland and the Tenderloin. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass' support will allow Sweet Relief to provide hundreds of new grants of up to $1,000 to musicians and workers. This year, grants will honor HSB's long connection to the San Francisco Bay Area and New Orleans, which are both focal points of this year's festival and centers of roots music. Eligible SF/Bay Area counties are: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin; eligible New Orleans parishes are: Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany. Sweet Relief's COVID-19 Fund is open and will accept applicants on a rolling basis; however, due to expected demand, applications are recommended by October 31, 2021.

Says Aric Steinberg of Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, "Our music community is still in crisis.  Artists, crews and all of the talented individuals who work in the live music industry are still fighting for their financial lives. The Delta variant has been another devastating blow, and the community is in desperate need of immediate financial assistance. With the support of partners like HSB, we are able to provide emergency financial assistance to artists and crews during this unprecedented emergency. Grants are used to pay for vital living expenses such as medical bills, rent, food and clothing."

East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative's Esther's Orbit Room Cultural Revival Project is a neighborhood-led effort to restore a historic West Oakland jazz and blues venue, closed for years, and establish a new community-centered home for music and art with a performance venue, café, and artist housing. Small outdoor gatherings are planned for this fall. Noni Sessions of East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative says, "The Esther's Orbit Room Cultural Revival Project is a project that brings transformation—almost a transmutation—of a decades-long deserted building into a generational asset. Esther's will once again be the living legacy of the history and culture of West Oakland. Support from organizations like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass guarantees our future by investing in our present."

The Tenderloin Museum's "Sounds Of The Tenderloin" project seeks to uplift and celebrate San Francisco's historic nightlife district, once home to a thriving jazz and swing scene before becoming world famous as a major cultural center for the hippy, folk and rock explosion of the 60s and 70s. "Sounds of The Tenderloin" is designed to bring this unique neighborhood's diverse and often underinvested community together with music fans from the wider Bay Area through several months of live performances, beginning this fall with Covid-safe, small-scale live music shows at outdoor and indoor venues throughout the neighborhood. This program will celebrate the Tenderloin's rich legacy of jazz, blues, and rock music, support the recovery of the city's live music scene, and bring the joy of music back to the local community in an accessible way. "With the support of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, we will be able to bring accessible, live music programming rooted in the Tenderloin's undersung cultural history to one of SF's lowest-income communities, which has endured the many devastating effects of the pandemic with amplified intensity," says Alex Spoto of The Tenderloin Museum. "Through Sounds of the Tenderloin, we will create experiences that will foster strength, resilience, and connection in the heart of San Francisco."

Last year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass relief was focused on Bay Area venues that had been shut down by shelter-in-place, had no government aid in sight at that time, and needed an immediate and urgent lifeline. Support was given to Ashkenaz, Bottom of the Hill, El Rio, Eli's Mile High Club, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, La Peña, Mystic Theatre, Felton Music Hall, Red Poppy Art House, The Back Room, The Chapel, The Ivy Room, The Lost Church, The Monkey House, and The Starry Plough, as well as national and regional direct funding to the artists themselves. With this latest effort, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass seeks to recognize, appreciate and care for the people who lend their creativity, heart and hard work to the American roots music community in the Bay Area, New Orleans and beyond.

Following their decision to move this year's festival from its usual home in Golden Gate Park, and create a pandemic-safe alternative for their artists and audience, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass dedicated themselves to producing something sensational, in keeping with their tradition of providing music fans with an entirely free, world-class festival. Beginning Friday October 1st at 1pm Pacific, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass' 21st annual festival will broadcast 15 live and 12 pre-recorded performances over three days via HSB's website, Facebook, YouTube. The formidable line up includes Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Mavis Staples, Cedric Watson, Dom Flemons, Terence Blanchard, Valerie June, Las Cafeteras and more.

Tune in live to watch the festival: Friday October 1st, Saturday October 2nd and Sunday October 3rd from 4:00pm EST/ 3:00pm Central/ 1:00pm Pacific.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Facebook, YouTube 

About Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Over the last two decades, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has grown from a one-day local attraction to a world-renowned three-day festival that attracts more than half a million people - a one of a kind, annual, free music festival spanning multiple stages across the bucolic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The event features an array of eclectic bands each year - from roots and Americana, to funk, rock, soul and more. The festival prides itself on being able to delight concertgoers with new and unexpected acts every year alongside annual favorites such as Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle

The Hellman Foundation, directed by the four children of festival founders Warren and Chris Hellman, oversees the festival. It was the wish of Warren Hellman, and his family, to make a gift to the people of San Francisco -  and the world -  of a free annual music festival that features and celebrates American "roots" music, and its many outgrowths, and in doing so fosters joy, creativity, freedom, peace, collaboration, love of music, mutual respect, and spiritual community.

In 2019 the Festival hosted over 80 bands on 6 stages. In 2020 its impressive livestreamed event broadened its reach to an international audience and garnered over a million views. 2021's global livestream and launch of HSBTV, available to Apple TV and Roku users around the globe, promises to expand the festival's audience exponentially; a new era for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and an exciting gift for roots music fans internationally.

About EB PREC & Esther's

East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EB PREC) is a trailblazing land and housing organization that facilitates BIPOC and allied communities to organize, purchase, and steward land and housing on their own terms. Their model brings deep community engagement squarely into the process of property acquisition, development, and business feasibility. Their community activation work provides the organizational, financial, and technical inputs that increase communities' ability to self-organize around housing solutions. EB PREC is grounding a landscape-shifting Black Arts Community enterprise into the rapidly changing landscape of historic West Oakland, California. The Esther's Orbit Room Cultural Revival Project is their third community owned real estate acquisition project since their launch in 2018. They seek to anchor the revival of West Oakland's historic 7th Street landscape through their $4.8 million community-led property acquisition and development project that serves as the first phase of EB PREC's 7th Street Cooperative Cultural Corridor Revitalization Plan.

About The Tenderloin Museum

The Tenderloin Museum's mission is to promote the history and character of the Tenderloin neighborhood by offering educational, artistic, and charitable activities that support the neighborhood's current vibrancy, future potential, and enhanced economic development.  The Tenderloin neighborhood is one of the most misunderstood and maligned in San Francisco, with a rich, complex history that remains undiscovered by most residents. At the same time, the Tenderloin is one of the few affordable places left in the city, home to one of its highest populations of low and moderate-income people and a diverse "melting pot" of people from around the world.

After many years of planning and community input, the Tenderloin Museum opened its doors to the public in 2015 and was received with open arms by the community- over 2,500 people visited the museum in its opening months, including 40 school groups, and weekly public programs have been frequently sold out. The museum also hosts more than 100 walking tours each year led by neighborhood residents. The quality of our offerings has been recognized both internationally, as one of the Ten Best New Museums in the World by The Guardian, and locally, by the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, SF Weekly, SFist and others.

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