This weekend, my commission/recital/recording project took two major steps forward.
First, it found a name: The Bhakti Project. The title came to me in a practice session as I was singing through one of the Harbison Mirabai Songs, “Don’t Go, Don’t Go.” Mira asks Krishna (called “The Dark One” throughout her poetry) to show her “where to find the bhakti path.” I looked up the definition of the Sanskrit word months ago when I first started working on the song, but on this day its meaning really struck me: devotion.
It was, quite literally, an “aha!” moment. I didn’t shout “Eureka,” but I did stop singing and smile at my notes written in the margin of the page. Devotion. Several definitions of this word fit the recital and commission: “profound dedication; consecration;” “feelings of ardent love;” “religious zeal; the willingness to serve God.” Each of the voices on my recital program is devoted to knowing God.
And then, this one: “Commitment to some purpose.” Somewhere along my career path as a singer, I became devoted to new music. From my first collaborations with composition students at the University of Georgia, I fell in love with the process of working with a composer and other musicians to make something new, of giving life to a work that didn’t exist before but, if we all do our jobs right, might be around for years and years after we are gone. Anyone who loves “classical music” should be devoted to seeing that it remains a living art. And so, The Bhakti Project was born.
The second step came when I submitted an application for Fiscal Sponsorship through Fractured Atlas. A NYC-based arts-support organization, FA is an incredible resource for individual artists and arts groups around the nation. Just look at the headings on their website navigation bar: Healthcare (!), Fiscal Sponsorship, Liability Insurance, Marketing & Promotion, Professional Development, The Emerging Artists Fund. And those are just the tools for artists. They have a whole other section for Donors and Public that includes their own fundraising, events calendars, and newsletters.
What is Fiscal Sponsorship? Well, most folks are hesitant to donate more than the change in their pockets unless they can get a tax deduction for it. As someone who itemizes pages of deductions every year, I totally get that! But, in order for me to get 501(c)(3) status, I’d have to go through all sorts of legal and financial riggamaroll that would, likely, get in the way of the project or, even more likely, get me so frustrated that I throw in the towel. But Judd’s already writing, so it’s too late for that!
FA has set things up with IRS to sponsor artists and projects, essentially bringing them in under their umbrella of 501(c)(3) tax status. For their assistance, Fractured Atlas takes a very reasonable 6% cut from all donations. Read all about the incredible program here. My application for sponsorship will be reviewed in early April, and I’ll be set up with a page on their website where donors can easily and safely make contributions to the Bhakti Project. How cool is that??!!
Taking a page from the Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund, the idea behind The Bhakti Project is to collect smaller contributions from multiple donors and support one big project. The chronicling of the project through this blog already makes it a public process; I guess I’m just taking it one step further by asking for your help!
If you are devoted to new music, if this project inspires you in any way, please consider helping me with a contribution. I’ll be set up for tax-deductible donations in April, but I certainly won’t turn anyone away until then. Fractured Atlas is also set up to accept in-kind donations, so if any graphic designers out there are interested in donating a couple of hours for some publicity and many thanks, the Bhakti Project needs a logo! We’ll need a photo shoot for publicity materials and, eventually, the CD liner notes. If you live in or near New York City and would be interested in hosting a fundraising house concert, Jocelyn and I would love to get dressed up and come sing for you! There are so many ways to get involved.
I am so excited about this. Over the past month, talking about it with my colleagues and contemporaries (thanks for the plug, Alex!), it has been amazing to watch the momentum pick up. And I am so grateful to have this venue in which to document the process and to have you, my readers, to bounce all these ideas off of. Thanks, everybody!