The first time musician Garrett T. Capps set out to raise money for local artists during last year’s ¡VIVA! telethon, he admits being surprised at surpassing the $5,000 goal he’d set.

On Saturday, Capps said the goal has been set at $20,000, and he is optimistic that the San Antonio community will step up with further support.

“If we reach our goal, it will be validation that San Antonio’s community believes in the strength of the creative arts and what it can do for our quality of life,” he said.

Capps took inspiration from that sentiment from visual artist Vincent Valdez, who now lives in Houston but maintains strong ties with his hometown of San Antonio, including as an occasional trumpeter with Capps’ “skronk” band NASA Country, which will be the house band for the event.

As part of his telethon-hosting duties, Capps interviewed Valdez remotely for a segment to air during the livestreamed broadcast, which will start at 6 p.m. and run to midnight.

The purpose of the fundraiser is clearly stated in a press announcement: “Proceeds raised during this livestream event will help fund Luminaria’s new Working Artist Fund, which addresses the impact of COVID-19, the recent winter storm, and other ongoing economic hardships on individual artists living and working in Bexar County.”

The Working Artist Fund derives from the Corona Arts Relief program, started by Luminaria in 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. That program eventually distributed individual grants of $600 to 100 artists, totaling more than $60,000.

The second ¡VIVA! telethon is a joint production of Texas Public Radio (TPR), Luminaria, Nelco Media, and Capps, who said he drew inspiration for the initial telethon from a barely noticed object in his recording studio.

A pen advertising the famous Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon for muscular dystrophy research sat atop an audio console and “subconsciously” implanted the idea in Capps’ mind to revive the now largely defunct telethon idea. He’d been brainstorming on how to raise money for local artists and thought the novel approach would both appeal to potential donors and fit the remote livestream concept suddenly common amid the pandemic.

The first telethon featured prerecorded segments by local bands and poets, in-studio interviews with face-covered participants, and informative documentaries on local arts institutions.

¡VIVA! Uno Más, as Capps refers to the second iteration of the event, will include Luminaria Director Yadhira Lozano as co-host with Capps for one hour, along with a mix of in-studio and prerecorded remote interviews, including Valdez, hip hop artist Jeremy King, and visual artist Deanna Brown. Local music will be represented with live in-studio performances by Bill Baird, Nuevo, and Honey Bunny. And Bakery Lorraine will debut a new sandwich, which Capps, who lightheartedly proclaims himself the “sandwich king” on social media, will sample live.

Another highlight will be a prerecorded interview with Carole Baskin of Tiger King fame, a controversial figure Capps said he chose because, like himself, she was “Born in San Antone.” Capps has a song of that title, featured in the Showtime series Billions. Baskin also gained notoriety in part because millions tuned into the show as a result of pandemic isolation.

Videos submitted by artists were submitted for competition in the Luminaria and TPR collaboration “Nightstream,” with three winners to have their videos projected during the Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival in November. Public voting will take place during the ¡VIVA! broadcast. Winners will be chosen live at the midnight conclusion of the telethon.

The telethon will be streamed live from the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Theater inside the Irma and Emilio Nicolas Media Center at the new TPR headquarters, with a set designed by San Antonio visual artists Matt Kleberg and Amada Miller, with furniture provided by Period Modern.

Capps and his production team, including TPR events manager Adam Fleming, were admittedly “stressed” during the first production but learned from the experience. They are confident things will run smoothly and are looking forward to the six-hour live broadcast, Capps said.

¡VIVA! Uno Más will stream live on the Facebook and YouTube channels of Luminaria and TPR.

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...