LGBTQ chorus gets $40,000 grant to offset coronavirus hit

Voices of Note, stung by a season put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in donations, received a $40,000 grant to keep the nearly 40-year-old LGBTQ arts organization alive to sing another day.

The funds came as part of $580,000 in grants to 11 arts organizations across the region from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Voices of Note, which includes the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and Atlanta Women’s Chorus, is the only LGBTQ group to receive a grant. Other recipients do include theaters that produce plays with LGBTQ content.

Eve Campbell, executive director of Voices of Note, said the grant provides a lifeline for the organization. 

“We will use it to keep our doors open and able to remain present in our community. It will help to pay essential bills,” Campbell said. “It’s been a true blessing.”

The pandemic forced Voices of Note to cancel three performances, which was half of its current season. That meant a steep drop in ticket revenue that totaled about 40 percent of the organization’s annual planned income, Campbell said. In addition, the economic uncertainty and spike in unemployment have impacted donations.

The grant will provide a boost to the group’s budget and help provide financial runway as they plan the next several months, Campbell said.

“Our goal is that we remain viable and connected to our community and still provide a service," she said. "The money is going to help us and give us a little bit of a grace period to learn what that means in this world today."

Other grant recipients include Actor’s Express ($100,000), Dad’s Garage ($100,000), Horizon Theatre Company ($75,000) and 7 Stages ($50,000). The grants, announced May 19, were first reported by Saporta Report.

“We have many donors and other funding partners who are passionate about maintaining a thriving arts sector and especially bolstering smaller arts organizations,” Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation, said in a press release announcing the grants. 

“At this moment these donors are going all-in on tying passion to purpose for these grants, enabling us to multiply our impact several times over this year as compared to previous annual grant awards,” she added.

Voices of Note also received financial support from two Small Business Administration programs – the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The funding comes as the organization pivots to free virtual events – including last week’s Couch Cabaret and the Atlanta Queer Arts Alliance showcase in April – and as it considers a new season this fall.

“I’m not ready today to say we’re not going to have a season, but three to four months from Sept. 1, which is coming up quickly, we will make decisions about the fall and what is realistic,” Campbell said. 

Whatever shape the upcoming season takes, Campbell said the safety of performers and audience is paramount.

“We take that very seriously," she said. "To put over 100 men or 70 women in a confined space for singing, that creates a lot of sputum spray."

Read more coverage of how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting LGBTQ Atlanta.

Photo by Sher Pruitt