The Nelsonville Music Festival features four different stages at Robbins Crossing.

Area music fans will soon have something to satisfy their concert cravings thanks to a collaboration between Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, the School of Media Arts & Studies and the Nelsonville Music Festival. This summer the collaboration will bring the annual music festival to the audiences at home through the Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival (VNMF).

Producers of NMF, Stuart’s Opera House announced in March that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the four-day festival would be postponed until 2021. The 2020 festival would have been the festival’s 16th year. VNMF will fill the gap between in-person festivals.

VNMF will include headliners from past festival seasons, who have submitted recorded performances from their respective locations. Regional artists will also be included as they have traditionally been, with OU students, recent graduates and faculty working to safely record music shoots around the southeast Ohio region. Once VNMF receives all of the recordings they will be cut together to create the virtual music festival. VNMF is set to air later this summer.

In the past, students from OU have had hands-on opportunities with producing the music festival. Josh Antonuccio, the associate professor and director of the Scripps College of Communication’s Media Arts & Studies Program has been working to help find and provide opportunities for students affected by the pandemic.

“Every music festival and concert has been shut down because of the pandemic, meaning students and recent grads have lost internships and jobs this summer,” Antonuccio said. “With the trends of artists engaging virtually, we found a way to create an opportunity to still bring this festival to life in a new format, providing our students with necessary experience in the industry and giving them funding for their work.”

Both students and recent graduates are working paid internships that cover a wide variety of positions involved in producing a virtual music festival. In addition to providing students with a place to hone their skills, VNMF also allows local musicians the opportunity to perform.

“We aim to give artists and musicians a place to put their art in this strange marketplace, while providing a substantive industry-learning experience for our students.”

The Nelsonville Music Festival is produced by Stuart’s Opera House, a historic, non-profit theater in Nelsonville, Ohio’s historic square, and is a crucial fundraiser for the opera house. The festival was started as an opportunity to bring more people to Nelsonville and serve as a revitalization of the arts district and annual gathering for the southeast Ohio music and art-loving community. It has grown from a one-day event to a four-day camping festival hosted at Hocking College.

“I feel we all need something positive to look forward to right now,” Tim Peacock, executive director of Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival, said. “We all recognize that art and music is critical to our collective mental well-being and 2020, so far, has been hard on everyone. Having an event like this allows us to be creative during a pandemic and is a way of gathering the NMF community, even if it’s just digitally.”

Peacock added that because of the financial strain due to COVID-19, he hopes the donations for VNMF will help the small non-profit make it through the financially difficult year.

Donations for Stuart’s Opera House will be taken as the festival streams.

Those interested in donating to help support paid, educational positions for students can email Josh Antonuccio at antonucn@ohio.edu.

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