Raising $5,200 for Bexar County artists, a Saturday night telethon featured the work of dozens during a live, six-hour online event.

Hosted at The Lonesome Rose by Garrett T. Capps, the ¡VIVA! telethon to promote local arts and artists raised money for the Corona Arts Relief Project, an emergency fund created in March to provide financial assistance to artists affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund, managed by the Luminaria Artist Foundation, distributed an initial round of $28,000 to 49 artists last month.

The money raised during the telethon, which was streamed by NowCastSA, and from other Luminaria funding partners will be available to artists in increments of up to $600. Artists may apply here from May 12 to May 21 in two categories: professional development and lost revenue due to event and exhibition cancellations, Luminaria Executive Director Kathy Armstrong said during her interview with Capps during the telethon. 

“Artists are the people in San Antonio who are creating the culture, creating the art, and they are creating the reason to go out at night,” Armstrong said. “The money raised will go straight into the pockets of artists, and we are glad to have another chance to do that.”

The telethon featured videos submitted by local artists including visual, spoken word, and solo and group musicians, with interviews with Mayor Ron Nirenberg, former Spur Matt Bonner, and local artists sprinkled throughout. 

Daniel Anastasio (left) and Ignacio Gallego of the music group Agarita perform during the ¡VIVA! telethon preshow. Credit: Courtesy / ¡VIVA!

San Antonio’s 2020-22 Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson joined Capps at The Lonesome Rose for an interview and live performance, reciting a piece inspired by people’s responses on social media to the prompt “my tongue is.”

“My tongue is a bad eagle perched before flight,” Sanderson said. “My tongue just like your tongue has the ability to bless and curse this earth.”

In a 12-minute recorded segment titled “Drawing With Jill,” Jill Ewing with the community-based art gallery Bihl Haus Arts walked viewers through a still-life drawing.

Guitarist Phil Nelson performed a song from his album Adventures on the Road titled “In Your Arms I’m Home.” The San Antonio-centric lyrics spoke of overcoming obstacles and unwavering commitment in a relationship.

Before starting, Nelson told the audience that “as the COVID crisis hits the musicians of San Antonio hard, it’s very critical that you all get behind and support these out-of-work musicians” whose gigs have been canceled.

Nirenberg said he was grateful to San Antonio artists and everyone staying home because “that is what is helping to flatten the curve and save thousands of lives.” 

“So many people are coming together to support each other right now and this is what we need to keep doing,” Nirenberg said, including continuing to raise funds for local artists. 

Capps told the Rivard Report that he decided on a telethon because he wanted to do something for the local artist community that would go toward something that “has the biggest purpose.”

“I wanted to help my community in the biggest way I could,” and the Corona Arts fund is making a big impact on the lives of local artists, Capps said. “Artists don’t have many gigs right now, and artists shouldn’t suffer more than they already do.”

The telethon exceeded its $5,000 goal well before midnight, and donations to the Corona Arts Relief Fund will continue to be accepted online. 

“This money is going to make a big difference in the lives of artists throughout the city,” Capps said. “The fact that we were able to meet our goal in a time that is already very stressful for people is mind-blowing, and I am so happy things transpired as they did.” 

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.