The Presenter’s Peer Group meets every second Tuesday of the month at 8:00PM.
During the unprecedented halt of the live music industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a dedicated and resourceful community refused to allow the silence to persist. This community, united under the banner of the Presenters Peer Group, is an initiative by NERFA designed to support small venue presenters and house concert hosts through monthly Zoom meetings. These meetings are thoughtfully moderated by Board Members Dan Gottfried and Barbara Shiller, who bring their expertise and leadership to guide the conversations.
The initiative rapidly gained momentum, with members joining from across and beyond the NERFA region, including as far afield as Texas. Participation wasn’t restricted to smaller venues; the group also welcomed musicians and representatives of larger festivals, such as the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and the Woodstock Folk Festival of Woodstock, IL.
In the early days of the lockdown, the group acted as a forum for expressing shared challenges and frustrations induced by the pandemic. Members introduced themselves and their unique venues, and they candidly discussed their struggles.
As the world adapted to the crisis, the group’s dialogues mirrored this shift, moving from shared concerns to actionable solutions. As the prospect of live music’s return became tangible, safety measures took precedence in discussions. These included mandating vaccination proof, enforcing mask requirements, and redesigning seating arrangements to maintain social distancing.
The pandemic, while demanding adaptation, also necessitated sacrifices. Cherished traditions like house concert potluck dinners were paused, and due to reduced audience capacity caused by social distancing, attendees were asked for higher contributions to support the artists.
Undeterred by these setbacks, the group was keen to explore digital avenues for performances. As restrictions eased, the group’s narrative transformed from one of survival to one of revival, with members now sharing success stories.
Today, the Presenters Peer Group continues its monthly meetings, with conversations now revolving around experiences and insights from hosted concerts and attended festivals. The discussions have evolved into a resourceful platform, leading to new artist bookings.
The story of the Presenters Peer Group, deftly moderated by Dan Gottfried and Barbara Shiller, serves as a testament to the resilience of community and adaptability. It’s a heartening reminder that in the face of adversity, the music need not stop; we can adapt, survive, and ultimately thrive – together.