Nightingale at the Tulsa SXSW showcase in 2019

Tulsa musicians and venues have been hit hard by COVID-19. Social distancing and small venues crammed with people don’t really fit together. For months venues have been empty, and musicians have been home. 

The Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts and Culture couldn’t sit idly by and watch the music community suffer. In September it announced Play Tulsa Music, a music recovery program designed to aid Tulsa venues in hiring local musicians for live performances. 

Venues, restaurants, bars and hotels who meet Tulsa Health Department’s reopening guidelines and have a capacity less than 1,000 can apply for a grant at until the end of the year, according to the website. 

The grants are used to pay 50% of a musician/band performance fee charged to a venue between Sept. 3 and Dec. 30. Tulsa County CARES Act funding has made the $150,000 recovery program possible, says Lauren Snedden, director of marketing and communications for Visit Tulsa. 

The grants are only for music spaces, but organizations, musicians, booking agencies and others are encouraged to collaborate with venues to create live performance opportunities for Tulsa musicians, Snedden says.

Local musicians have been eager to perform again since COVID-19 dealt its massive blow to the music community and tourism industry in turn. Tulsa venues have been at risk of closing permanently because of the lack of income from shows, and when those venues close, local musicians have no place to perform. 

The Play Tulsa Music program helps venues safely host music fans, while helping with the costs, boosting Tulsa’s economy and bringing our music community back together.

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