SANTA FE, NM — For those of you who like the idea of a music and art festival but don’t like crowds or being hot or wearing flower crowns, I’m with you, and I have good news: on Friday, May 8 at 8pm (Mountain Time), you can tune in to a digital arts festival showcasing some of New Mexico’s best creative talent, without even leaving your couch. Virtual LemonAid is not only a way to celebrate the diverse and accomplished art community of New Mexico, but a benefit for COVID-19 relief — 20% of the funds raised will be divided between participating artists, while the other 80% will be split between the All Together New Mexico Fund and the Santa Fe County Connect Fund, both of which support New Mexicans affected by the pandemic.
The nonprofit Creative Santa Fe is spearheading the project, and brought together the team that is making it happen. The festival will include singers, poets, actors, filmmakers, dancers, and other performers, and will be hosted by Hakim Bellamy, poet laureate of Albuquerque. The festival will be streamed across social media channels, and on public television in the region.
The list of participating artists is still growing, but as of now it includes Stewart Copeland and David Byrne in conversation with Bryan Hardgroove, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear, John Dieterich of Deerhoof, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Meredith Monk, and Ali MacGraw.
“This is a state that’s long known that our arts and cultural community, bar-none, are some of the best in the world,” said New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in a video statement on behalf of Virtual LemonAid. “What we want to do is make sure that during this time we continue to have the resources to make sure that no New Mexico family goes hungry, no New Mexico family goes without the basic things that they need in this time of unprecedented uncertainty.”
New Mexico’s early and aggressive tactics to flatten the coronavirus curve have been noted, though the threat still looms large, particularly in the northwestern part of the state. Last week, New Mexico Arts announced it would distribute $1.5 million in state and federal funds to 200 of the state’s art organizations, schools, tribal governments, and government entities, with one third of the assigned to rural communities. The money is designated to retaining jobs — both full- and part-time, as well as independently contracted — for artists, arts administrators, and arts educators.
Art and culture are an important part of New Mexico’s economy — it’s commonly said that Santa Fe is home to the third largest art market in the country — and has already suffered major economic losses due to COVID-19 closures. Over two thirds of arts organizations surveyed by Americans for the Arts said they would have to make reductions in staff, and a third said they were unsure if they would be able to reopen.
Tune in here on Friday at 8pm to watch and celebrate some of New Mexico’s creative talent, and consider donating in support of the COVID-19 relief efforts, if you are able.