Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Arts & Culture
Published on July 27, 2020
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to go virtual, give $1.5M in grants to local musiciansPhoto: Nikki Collister/Hoodline

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has officially joined the list of music festivals cancelled due to COVID-19.

The free annual weekend-long concert, held each October, draws three quarters of a million people to Golden Gate Park. As recently as last month, the festival was still officially waiting to make the call, hoping the pandemic might turn around. But it's now decided to move online.

From October 2-4, the festival will host "Let The Music Play On," a digital celebration combining newly recorded performances and archived footage from the last 19 years of Hardly Strictly.

It's a similar approach to the one the Stern Grove Festival decided to take this year, but with one twist: fans can also submit favorite photos, audio, video and stories from the festival, which will be featured as part of the event.

Hardly Strictly is also putting some of its cash — endowed by the late Warren Hellman — into a $1.5 million COVID-19 artist and venue relief fund to help support the Bay Area's music community.

Individual musicians can apply for $2,000 grants, while venues in the greater Bay Area "with a track record of presenting American roots styles" will be granted allotments of $100,000 to $200,000 to stay afloat. 

Applications will open in August, with priority given to musicians from populations "suffering disproportionate effects of COVID-19: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ+, disabled, and low-income people."