The following is an open letter to Austin’s musicians from the Board of Directors of Black Fret.
To Austin’s Artists,
We understand that as musicians you frequently hear stories that are too good to be true. Black Fret probably sounds like one. We understand that you’ve dedicated years of your life to perfecting your art and that protecting your art, and the livelihood it provides, is important to you. With that understanding we respectfully ask that you spend a minute understanding us and our commitment to you.
We grew up in Austin. Austin’s music and clubs defined our youth. Together the Board of Directors of Black Fret has been volunteering for local music non-profits in Austin for more than forty years. During that time we haven’t been paid a penny. We know that you’ve invested lots of time and money perfecting your art. We’ve committed the same trying to perfect a non-profit business model to serve Austin’s musicians. We think Black Fret is the answer.
We are committed to making Black Fret a reliable, valuable and equitable organization built to provide grants to a large number of Austin’s local musicians. Membership directed grants are just the start. As an institution Black Fret will be empowered to raise money from many other sources. Those funds can be used for a variety of other grant programs to support our music community.
Our vision for our core, membership directed grants is that they become a globally recognized symbol of artistic excellence and, that in doing so, they will create new opportunities for Austin’s artists beyond just the value of the grant. That being said, we know that money is the gas in the tank. We want those grants to be large enough that they allow an artist to undertake a significant project, tour or transition that they wouldn’t without the funds. There are some responsibilities that come with accepting a grant (see Black Fret Artist program) but we think they are minimal, give our donors some assurances, and in no way give Black Fret any rights or claims on your songs.
As far as we know nothing like Black Fret exists anywhere else. That means we are learning as we go. We believe strongly in building equitable processes that result in supporting artistic excellence without bias. We are listening and we are learning. If you don’t like something you see with Black Fret or if you just want to know the folks driving it… please contact us. We’ve met with scores of Austin’s musicians in building the Black Fret model but know that there is always room for improvement.
We would welcome your help in building Black Fret into the next great Austin music institution. If you’d like to help please read “Support Black Fret” and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for taking some time to get to know us.
Colin, Matt and Kerry
Black Fret Board of Directors