Jonathan Byrd felt the impact of the pandemic when he had to move all of his equipment into a room in his house. The local Triangle musician started sharing his music solely through video — and lost nearly half his income by lack of merchandise sales.
“When I used to play a show, I would have my merchandise and people could buy something and take it home,” Byrd said.
To support artists like Byrd, arts councils from Orange, Durham, Chatham and Wake counties have teamed up with WRAL to host "Big Night In for the Arts," which will feature performances by Scotty McCreery, Ariana DeBose, Mandolin Orange, Branford Marsalis and Mike Wiley.
The fundraiser will celebrate and support the arts community in its path to recovery post-pandemic. The event will be livestreamed and broadcast on WRAL on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Byrd said the best way to support artists like him at this time is to watch their virtual performances, share their content on social media and buy music and merchandise.
“People haven't been able to play gigs for a year,” Byrd said. “They’re finding other jobs or figuring out other things to do — hopefully they get by until they are able to play music again.”
Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission, said the idea formed after directors of the arts councils had a conversation about combining efforts to make an impact on something significant to them.
While the four counties have various specific needs, the proceeds will go toward a relief fund for arts agencies and individual artists; arts and education programming; and initiatives for equity in the arts.
Murray said she sees the fundraiser as a way to help artists and arts organizations reenter the world.