On Saturday, May 30, we hosted our sixth annual Perform-a-thon, an all-day arts extravaganza featuring performances by students and faculty members from our music school, via Zoom. During this virtual event, we found hope and comfort together as a NEMPAC family and raised funds to ensure that all youth are given the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the arts, no matter what.

When we made the decision to cancel our in-person fundraiser at City Winery Haymarket Lounge due to COVID-19, we knew that the show must go on somehow. Driven by a common purpose to empower artists of all ages and abilities, our board, faculty, and staff put their heads together to find a creative solution through Zoom.

Sherri Snow, executive director at NEMPAC, explained why we made the decision to convert the Perform-a-thon to a virtual fundraiser.

This fundraiser is the driving force of our scholarship program and directly impacts our ability to support students next year in their participation in creative, artistic programming. Despite the global public health crisis, we knew we must act to ensure we had a budget to support scholarship requests next year and to provide a platform for artists to share their musical gifts, which is now more important than ever in our current environment where social interplay is so limited.”

Throughout the Perform-a-thon, the diversity and unity of our NEMPAC family was on full display. More than 100 artists shared their musical gifts with us, but each in a unique, powerful way. We watched solo acts. Group performances. Live shows. Pre-recorded video productions. We heard classical. Rock. Musical theatre. Jazz.

As a virtual audience, we gathered around our computers, laptops, phones, and tablets to cheer on students enrolled in our in-house education courses, as well as private and group music instruction. We clapped for students performing in the Eliot Music Ensemble, Eliot Band, Eliot Choir, and the St. John School Honor’s Choir and representing school partnership programming proudly. We shouted with joy as faculty members in our community music school performed for us. We watched with awe as international contemporary dancer Kristina Berger made a special guest appearance at our arts extravaganza. We smiled as our neighbors and friends took to makeshift stages in their homes to support youth arts scholarships and educational programming.

The three hours of back-to-back performances served as another poignant reminder that even though our NEMPAC family is apart right now, none of us are ever alone.

Due to your commitment to making the arts affordable and accessible for all youth, we raised more than $16,500, surpassing our fundraising goal. Snow explained how we’ll use these funds to foster equity through the arts.

NEMPAC will use the funds to support youth music scholarships next year and maintain affordable tuition for our educational programs. This year, we’ve awarded over $18,000 in scholarships. Next year, we are fortunate to keep our scholarship budget the same due to the success of this year’s Perform-a-thon, helping to make participation in after-school classes, summer programs, private and group music instruction and music theatre troupe accessible to all youth.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to our Perform-a-thon sponsors for their unwavering financial support and belief in our mission: The Boston Foundation (Silver Sponsor) as well as the following Bronze Sponsors: Andrea and Arthur Waldstein, Century Bank, Charlestown Mothers Association, Munroe Morrow Wealth Management, and North End Athletic Association. We could not be prouder to be partners with these individuals and businesses that champion high-quality, accessible music education and arts experiences for all youth. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support, especially amid the coronavirus crisis. Snow reflected on what this year’s Perform-a-thon meant to her personally in light of the global public health crisis.

This year’s fundraiser, although hosted via a new online platform, showed me and my staff that the arts matter now more than ever before. The creativity that will come out of this pandemic will be astonishing because the arts give us a voice and means to express what cannot be said. The arts bring us together as a community and give us a place to gather (virtually), stay connected, and unite us as we all face the personal and professional challenges of the crisis.”

Indeed, this year’s Perform-a-thon, while like no other, did just that.

What was your favorite part of our virtual fundraiser?