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Teddy Abrams

Abrams’ Louisville Artists Network Emerges From Coronavirus Isolation

From WFPL Louisville

By Stephanie Wolf

Composer, conductor and musician Teddy Abrams, who is also music director for the Louisville Orchestra, isn’t a “huge social media person.”

But he’s been recording music at his home and sharing it on Facebook ever since the coronavirus pandemic forced the orchestra to cancel its concerts.

“When this first happened, artists around the world followed their instincts which was to share,” Abrams said. “They immediately leapt online. We might not be able to perform on stages or with audiences in person, but if a technology exists to allow us to communicate, that is our new stage, that is our venue.”

While the pandemic hasn’t stopped artists from practicing and making their art, it has shut down much of their income as show after show, and event after event have been called off. Abrams saw an opportunity to coalesce these new facts of life: artists need money to pay rent, but they also feel a need to create and share art, to help people emotionally and mentally get through this period of self isolation and anxiety.

The result? Abrams has established the Louisville Artist Network, in partnership with the city and Kentucky Performing Arts.

A Role To Play
Later this month, the Louisville Artist Network will begin offering “micro-commissions” for artists 18 and older living in the Greater Louisville Area.

Anyone of any kind of artistic discipline can apply, Abrams said.

Artists will submit proposals for original virtual works. Artists who are selected will receive $150 to $200 and three days to create that work. The art will be available on social media.

“These are not big numbers,” Abrams said. “But they are numbers.”

Abrams said it’s important to be sensitive to the immediate needs of the pandemic, but he also insists that art can, and will, play a critical role in the recovery process. The arts have transcended previous pandemics, wars and other crises, defining those eras and giving people hope. He sees the Louisville Artist Network playing a similar role in this crisis.

“When this is over, people will need something to rebuild for,” he said. “Art and culture serves to give us possibilities and to suggest what we might be able to do and suggest that we have a strength and a kind of communion that we serve together, and that inspires people to want to rebuild and to grow.”

They’ve raised about $30,000 in private donations to support the program for several months. One of the initiative’s supporters is Louisville-born filmmaker Owsley Brown.

The initiative is part of a larger city project called, “Lift Up Lou,” with the goal of boosting community morale during the pandemic.

“We’ve been saying throughout this crisis that something good can always come out of something bad,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to seeing local artists take advantage of the platforms on ‘Lift Up Lou.’ The arts are critical to keep our minds at ease, and it will be essential to helping us heal once COVOID-19 departs our community.”

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