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Artist Jerrod Goggins performing at the Athens Artists Memorial Project, on October 11, 2022.

Local nonprofit raises funds for Athens artists

Athens Artists Memorial Project, or AAMP, a local nonprofit organization, raised over $3,000 during its first annual benefit concert on Oct. 11.

AAMP was created in memory of local artists to provide music and art assistance to those in need of funding for participation in the arts. Earlier this year, AAMP earned its official 501C3 non-profit organization status and elected its first Board of Directors.

“When we started out we were pretty meager," Doug Brooks, president of the Board of Directors, said. "We only had maybe $500 or $300 in our account, then we'd get money and spend it, but now as a full nonprofit we are looking to create a bigger fund and to expand more into not just music but other arts endeavors.”

To celebrate its legitimacy, AAMP hosted its first benefit concert at Casa Cantina on Oct. 11 to raise funds to continue to aid the arts community.

“This is the first time that we've ever put on a fundraiser for ourselves, and that's sort of the history of several decades of being informal, then this year becoming more of a legitimate organization,” Roman Warmke, treasurer of the AAMP Board of Directors, said. 

The concert consisted of musical performances by Frank McDermott, Jerrod Goggins and Stuart's Opera House’s Afterschool Music Program. 

There was also a raffle and silent auction with several items donated by local businesses, including Jackie O's, Stewart McDonald Guitar Shop, Passion Works Studio, the Stitcherhood, Milo's Whole Food Gourmet, the Athens Cinema and Quinn Westenbarger Pottery.

Members of AAMP did not set a fundraising goal; however, they were surprised to find out they had raised around $2,500 from the concert before another $1,800 was donated to the fund by two of AAMP’s benefactors, Lucian and Lori Spataro.

“We just didn't know what to expect for our very first one,” Warmke said. “That was more than I expected.” 

Although AAMP began in 2020, the idea behind the project began in 1994, as the Johnny B. Fund. Since then, it has helped fund several local community arts initiatives such as the Afterschool Music Program at Stewart’s Opera House and the Athens County Children’s Services' Santa Tree Project.

“(The Afterschool Music Program) is basically a program for middle school and high school students to play music with their peers in a manner that is a little different than maybe how you play music with your parents,” Stuart’s Opera House’s Assistant Director of Arts Education Adam Remnant, said. 

The program continues to grow in popularity, attracting more and more students who are interested in being a part of a band.

“This year we’re getting near 30 students … and we're kind of maxed out,“ Remnant said. "We're already filled up for students this year.”

The students in the program were one of the acts who performed at the AAMP benefit concert. 

Remnant said the benefit concert was a good opportunity for the students because the venue is a possible business where they could play after graduating high school or college.

“Doing things and supporting programs like (Stuart’s Opera House’s After School Music Program), seeing your musicians getting the opportunities to get out and play, that means a lot” Brooks said. “It's a cool thing to do. It’s like playing Santa Claus, but not limited to just Christmas.”

Brooks was first involved with the Santa Tree Project when he taught at Federal Hocking secondary school and thought it would be a great thing to introduce to AAMP. 

“At the high school, every homeroom raised money, in whatever way you could, to buy a kid from the Santa Tree Project Christmas presents,” Brooks said. “When I quit teaching, I took that from them, and thought that it would be a great thing for this organization to do.” 

Brooks encourages those who know about AAMP and its mission spread the word about the project to help build funds so it can give back to the community even more than it does now. 

“The more people that know about us, the more people that we can help, and the more people that can help support us,” Brooks said. “That is the biggest thing that I want right now is for more people to know about us to request funds, to donate funds and to hopefully reach out to bigger things instead of just supporting individuals.”

Tre Spencer contributed to this report.


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