With increasing overhead costs, local small businesses have had a difficult time finding the funding to bring in musicians and other arts programs to their establishments. Data from the national Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that one in five small businesses will fail within the first year, and half will fail within five years. Live music can play a crucial role in success for a small business, according to the nonprofit National Restaurant Association: “Whether a restaurant is seeking to increase table turnover, retain patrons by fostering a soothing ambiance or liven a festive gathering, music plays a crucial role. No resource has greater value when it comes to establishing a desired mood for a particular restaurant setting.”
The launch of The Friends of Live Music Fund will allow the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington to take a more active role in working with local businesses to bring high quality musical performances to their patrons.
In 2018, the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington announced a new initiative to help support live music performances at local venues. The Friends of Live Music Fund was started by Otto and Donna Ray, who have been patrons of live music for many years, especially local singer songwriters.
“We know how hard it can be to try to make a living as a musician, and we know how local small businesses struggle too, and we wanted to do what we could to help bring more live music to local stages,” said Otto Ray, owner of Ray Wealth Management.
Donna Ray expands on their involvement in the local arts scene: “We have always loved sitting in the audience and listening, and Otto has a band he plays with sometimes. But in the past year, we’ve gotten very involved with the singer/songwriter showcase over at Bear’s Place. We’ve seen such incredible talent, and we really want more people to experience these fantastic performances. We know the shows could benefit from more marketing, and we are excited to work with the Arts Alliance to bring that about.”
“We are here to encourage advocacy for the arts in our community, and are delighted that Donna and Otto are joining us not only as donors, but as advocates, said board president Rachael Himsel. “There are many wonderful small business owners who provide great stages for local music, and we need to show our support of these businesses in whatever way we can—by showing up, donating, and advocating for musicians to get paid for their work.”
Applying for the Fund
To qualify for receiving funds, we want to see that the business is committed to including live music in its operations. Participating businesses must therefore meet the following criteria:
- Be located within Monroe County
- Be open to the public at least five days a week at the time of funding request
- Serve food and/or beverages
- Have a designated space for musical/arts programming
- Currently book at least 4 different local artists for the space per month; these may include musicians, poets, visual artists, theatre artists, or other professional artists
- Have staff available to book artists, OR have staff available to work with the AAGB to book artists on a regular basis (at least one different artist per month)
The Arts Alliance will review requests for funds on a monthly basis and let the business know within 30 days whether their request is approved or declined. Greater consideration will be given to establishments with a proven record of supporting the arts in the past. The money from the Fund may only be used to pay artists and booking agents for their services. A special request may be made for funds to be used to update the performance/art space, and/or for equipment needed to put on quality shows.Apply for Funds