Nelsonville Music Festival

The NMF sign in 2019. File art by Terry Smith.

From staff reports

It turns out that the Nelsonville Music Festival will be held this year, in a way.

Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and the School of Media Arts & Studies are partnering with the NMF to bring the annual festival to audiences through a digital collaboration called the “Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival” (VNMF).

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the four-day festival, originally set for June 4-7, was canceled.

Josh Antonuccio, associate professor and director of the Scripps College of Communication’s Media Arts & Studies Program, has helped implement multiple initiatives this summer to provide educational opportunities to students affected by the pandemic, with VNMF being among the initiatives.

“Every music festival and concert has been shut down because of the pandemic, meaning students and recent grads have lost internships and jobs this summer,” Antonuccio explained in a media release submitted by the university. “With the trends of artists engaging virtually, we found a way to create an opportunity to still bring this festival to life in a new format, providing our students with necessary experience in the industry and giving them funding for their work.”

Students and recent graduates were able to apply for paid internships that will cover multiple skill sets needed to produce the festival, including audio production, music production and mixing, video and location recording, editing, event organization, publicity and photography, the press release stated.

“I’m very excited to work on the VNMF project,” Andie Walla, lecturer in video production in the School of Media Arts & Studies and longtime video producer for the festival, said in the OU release. “It will be a great opportunity for a small group of students and recent grads to start doing production again in a safe environment. The pandemic has definitely hindered the production world, but the team has come up with some pretty safe and unique ideas that I’m excited to tackle.”

VNMF will include previous headliners from the festival submitting pre-recorded sets from their respective locations, as well as a team composed of OU students, recent graduates and faculty working with regional artists to complete remote music shoots across southeast Ohio.

The various sets will be edited together to create one virtual festival that will air later this summer, the OU release stated.

“We’re all trying to figure out this challenging environment together. Our faculty team is seeking to be innovative and malleable in this singular moment and to produce something of value to this community and beyond,” Antonuccio said in the media release. “We aim to give artists and musicians a place to put their art in this strange marketplace, while providing a substantive industry-learning experience for our students.”

NMF is produced by Stuart’s Opera House, non-profit theater in Nelsonville, and the event is a crucial fundraiser for the opera house.

“I feel we all need something positive to look forward to right now,” Tim Peacock, executive director of Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival, said in the media statement. “We all recognize that art and music is critical to our collective mental well-being and 2020, so far, has been hard on everyone. Having an event like this allows us to be creative during a pandemic and is a way of gathering the NMF community, even if it’s just digitally.”

Peacock added that because of the financial strain due to COVID-19, he hopes the donations for VNMF will help the small non-profit make it through the financially difficult year. Donations for Stuart’s Opera House will be taken as the festival streams. Those interested in donating to help support paid, educational positions for students can email Josh Antonuccio at antonucn@ohio.edu.

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