Arts West has added to the offerings of its Southeast Ohio Musical Lending Library by creating a musical workshop series that will begin on Feb. 24.
The series, which will rotate locations between Arts West at 132 W. State St. in Athens and Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville, will cover a wide variety of music genres and local musicians. Everything from banjo playing to West African drumming will be featured.
“We put out a survey and asked the people what they wanted,” Arts West Events Coordinator Tessa Evanosky said. “The workshops listed are what they told us. There’s a good variety.”
Arts West is operated by the Athens Arts, Parks and Recreation Department.
The series is designed to include people of all economic statuses. The cost is set on a sliding scale for each workshop, asking attendees to pay $10 to $20 if they can afford to do so, but no one will be turned away if they’re unable to pay any amount, according to the program brochure.
Its first session, “Fiddling with the Shaws,” features folk music teachers and champion fiddlers Liz and Lynn Shaw, who will highlight various techniques and styles within fiddling while also providing information on proper instrument maintenance and care.
Arts West opened the Lending Library in November after about a year of preparation and planning. Anyone can become a member after paying an annual $50 fee. This grants access to the Arts West facility and the full library of instruments that can be checked out for up to a month at a time.
Patrons have access to everything from an upright bass to electric guitars. Marching-band instruments have been popular with local students, providing a much more affordable alternative to renting the instruments.
“Something that I didn’t expect is that it’s really expensive to rent marching-band instruments if you’re a high-school student,” Evanosky said.
Although they aren’t yet able to provide rentals for a full school year, she said she hopes that will become a reality in the near future.
The program prides itself on its diverse membership base that’s composed of a variety of ages, ranging from 4 years old to people in their mid-60s.
Funding and support for the program comes from a variety of sources and allies. Arts West has received grants for the program and also has been supported by local businesses such as restaurant Casa Nueva, which had its worker-owners donate all the tips collected in an evening to fund the purchase of new instruments. Some of the current stock has been donated, while Evanosky also provides instruments given to her by friends and associates over the years from her involvement in the Athens music scene as a member of the longtime local band The Revulvas.
Arts West is open to the general public on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2 and 7 p.m. Registration and payment for the musical workshop series can be completed online at stuartsoperahouse.org.