GREENSBORO — ArtsGreensboro leader Laura Way envisioned an original song and video to honor the role creativity played in fostering community and hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four local musicians made it happen.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit arts support and advocacy organization officially released “Through It All,” the original music video it commissioned to celebrate the local arts community.
Musical artists Kate Musselwhite Tobey, Brandon Davis, J. Timber and J. Vann (aka Vann Go) wrote, composed, performed and produced the song, “Through It All.”
The public submitted photos and videos showing their artistry in isolation. Tobey put them together in the accompanying video.
Artists and arts organizations have struggled financially with canceled gigs and exhibits and closed venues during the pandemic. The video reminds its audience that artistry remained.
“All through this past year, people had art and creativity in their lives and embraced it in ways they had not done before,” said Way, ArtsGreensboro’s president and chief executive officer.
“Organizations did whatever they could to make sure people had art experiences,” she added. “If anything, art further enriched our lives.”
The music video will be shown to a national audience at the Americans for the Arts virtual convention next week.
ArtsGreensboro accompanied its release with a full-page ad in the News & Record and High Point Enterprise.
The ad carries the theme of ArtsGreensboro’s annual fundraising campaign, “Arts Through It All.”
It lists 280-plus artists and arts groups for which ArtsGreensboro, in partnership with the High Point Arts Council, has arranged nearly $1.6 million in grants.
Money came from sources such as ArtsGreensboro’s community fund drives, the N.C. Arts Council and federal CARES Act money through Guilford County.
When readers see the ad, “Some people might say, ‘I had no idea there were that many artists in this community,’” Way said.
With the song, video and its continued advocacy work, Way said, “We want to highlight the key role that the arts will play in the rebuilding of our economy and community spirit.”
ArtsGreensboro also has helped by raising money for artists and arts groups.
The public contributed $102,898 to its Greensboro Artist Emergency Relief Fund, which provided grants to individual artists.
As of Friday, ArtsGreensboro’s annual ArtsFund drive had raised $845,180, 85% of its June 30 goal of $1 million, said Catena Bergevin, ArtsGreensboro’s development director.
Its special Reentry and Reinvent campaign had raised $141,152, 28% of its June 30 goal of $500,000. That campaign likely will be extended, Way said.
But the creative economy needs more support, Way said.
ArtsGreensboro will advocate for city and county leadership to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan to the creative sector.
The city of Greensboro will receive $56 million from the American Rescue Plan; Guilford County, $104 million. They have not decided how to allocate it.
Way said she hopes that ArtsGreensboro’s efforts all result in more awareness, advocacy and support for local artists and arts organizations.
“The arts are essential to a community’s identity and well-being, both tangible and the intangible,” she said.
The music video project took root when Way wanted to commission a song from a local musician.
Tobey — musician, ArtsGreensboro board member, Cone Health design and innovation team member and former journalist — took the lead role in the project. She brought in J. Timber, who brought in Davis and Vann.
Davis handled writing, J. Vann handled production.
Tobey played violin, J. Timber played guitar. They sang with Vann and even Vann’s children.
Tobey’s background and talent came in handy in producing the video.
She drew inspiration from social media posts by people describing how they and artist friends had collaborated virtually during the pandemic.
She and ArtsGreensboro sought photos and videos through social media. They received both, showing people young, older and diverse singing, playing instruments, dancing, doing yoga, making visual art.
“It was so cool to see the range of different types of creative stuff that people were doing to stay connected during the pandemic,” Tobey said.
“It’s a really special asset that we have as a community — all these creative people,” Tobey added. “Hopefully this is a way to, one, celebrate that we’re all a part of this and we’re making it through, and, two, talk about how can we continue to support each other in the future in really meaningful ways.”
The music video marked the first official release from the production group Song CAMP, which stands for Creative Arts and Media Production.
The post-pandemic recovery and reentry remains a major challenge for the arts, advocates say.
Way said she has lain awake at night, worrying about what she can do to help the arts scene return as dynamic, diverse, equitable and inclusive.