Hallo, I'm David Mowat, musician and independent promoter and I'm inviting you to be a subscriber to live-streamed concerts when conditions allow us to start. Your money would not go to the church but to my music account to be distributed to musicians film-maker sound engineer and myself as need dictates.
For many decades, up until March 17th 2020 there have been free-entry lunch time concerts in the beautiful ancient church of Saint Stephen's by what was Bristol's old harbour in the city centre. Thousands of people have found this place to be an oasis in a busy city.
Audiences have been office workers, shoppers, visitors, parents with small children, disabled people and their carers and especially older people.
There was a sizeable one for Gypsy Rose in January.
I, with invaluable support from church volunteers, have been running these concerts for 11 years, drawing from my eclectic tastes and the riches thrown up on our cultural shore-line: jazz, Baroque, freeform, classical, spoken word, singer-songwriter; the talent and genre has been never-ending.
We're independent from the church management and pay a rent to them for the use of the building, and feel fully supported by them.
Here for example in the blissful pre-epidemic run-up to Christmas is the Bristol Ukelele Club.
As we all respond to the pandemic, it's not possible to meet there for the time being in person. And the government announced a much stricter control of movement on March 23rd evening, so even these plans cannot be given a start date.
But live streaming a concert, when the concert goer, from their own home, sees the familiar church pillars and furniture, and I can welcome them on camera as I always do, can be the next best thing to actually being there.
We'll have an in-the-moment shared experience. As well as being separate physical entities we share a spiritual realm and music can join up our separated selves, I believe. We'll need that feeling.
In normal times the donations basket has covered all our needs. But not only is there no audience there to put money in a basket, but the services of my excellent colleagues, who volunteered before I thought up crowdfunder, a sound engineer and film maker, are vital to bring you a quality experience. They, like all of us self-employed freelancers in this climate, are being creative in how we do what do! They need the opportunity to be paid something.
Rhodri Spearing made a promo video for one of the bands I run, BEJE, in January, and made such a good job of it he was the obvious person to ask about live streaming.
In normal times the musicians get a meal and expenses. In these times I'd like them to have the chance for a bit more than that.
On the 23rd March, we tested our idea for the first time (before the government made its announcement)! And there's been great reaction.
"Well done all of you, that was amazing!" Sarah Mitchel, church volunteer.
"Live music in these times. Really important" Martin Le Poidevin, concert organiser/singer
"So lovely to have local connection in this way" Catherine Feeney, concert-goer
We were thrilled that, at short notice, Kath and Charles Sugden, members of Speranza (which means 'hope'), were able to perform for us. Rhodri's face book page will given you a highlight of this concert (see below).
Since the evening of 23rd March, there is in effect 'lock down'. This means that, for the next few weeks at least, we won't be able even to live stream concerts. But it seems that there may be periods of let up, and when the opportunity arises, we now have the experience and the plans to put live streaming in place.
This crowdfunder could deliver a pot which will help me to confidently go ahead, book Rhodri, musicians and a sound engineer if needed.
When that time comes, I figure a budget of £200 a concert would do it. The pandemic and the justified stringent government response to it has devastated the cultural industries, especially free lancers. £200 would be a pot which those involved could decide week to week how to divide. This small amount reflects the primary task: to raise spirits through music in this global pandemic. Those involved include performers, film maker, sound engineer and promoter. Stretch that over 20 concerts, a wild guess at how many there'll be before we'll meet again (we know where but not when Vera) and I reach a £4000 target.
In the event that the pandemic lasts much longer and the funds run out, we'll think again. We'll get a sense of that as time goes on and can always reduce our honorariums. We're grateful for what comes. And this crowd-funder is also about building a live audience even if we don't realise our target.
Thank you so much for getting this far and considering being a stay-at-home subscriber to our live streamed concerts in the months ahead. It may be that you're one of the regulars on a Monday at 1pm in which case, I'm glad we've found a way to carry things on for you, when the opportunity arises.
With my very best wishes
David Mowat, independent concerts promoter.