project leader
Zoë M
1419 E 40th St.
(Goodrich-Kirtland Park)
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the project

UPFRNT is a virtual performance series from Cleveland, OH that seeks to elevate Black voices and provide a safe, paid performance opportunity during COVID-19.

Every 30 minute episode of UPFRNT will feature:

  • two musical performances

  • an all-styles dance cypher with a live DJ, and

  • a spotlight on an organization doing racial justice work in Cleveland

Our emcee, stand-up comic LolBrielle, will set the tone and introduce our audience to the featured artists on each episode, adding an extra layer of engagement and fluidity to the show. 

Our first three episodes will feature music from all across the expansive diaspora of Black music:

We’re calling on established members of the Cleveland community, and anyone who aligns with our mission, to get this initiative off the ground by funding our project. Your contributions will go directly to paying the 32 amazing Black artists working on our launch. Nearly all of our other production costs are being donated by these three amazing companies:

The support we're receiving from these three companies is what allows us to deliver such high production value, while pouring nearly all of our fundraised money directly into the Black arts community; a community that has been disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19.

If we can complete our campaign, each episode of UPFRNT will be available to stream for free on YouTube later this year. It is important to us that UPFRNT is accessible to everyone with an internet connection. If people do have money to spend, we want them to donate it to the organizations we spotlight. Part of our mission is to pay artists fairly. We don't want artist's compensation to rely on attendance or be supplemented with "exposure" as it often is. We built our budget around what it would take to pay everyone their asking price, and it's through your contributions that we can live out this part of our mission. Whether big or small, your contribution is a gesture to sustain the arts, provide COVID-19 relief, and build a platform that keeps attention and support focused on the Black community while we continue to work toward racial equality in America. 

We appreciate your support so much and promise to deliver something that will truly stand out and give Cleveland the representation it deserves. 

the steps

We've done a lot of work already. All of our artists are booked, and we've got our crew, location, and equipment ready to go. We plan to film the content for the first three episodes of UPFRNT on October 17th. When we complete our ioby campaign we will be able to release our first episode as early as November through a YouTube streaming event. The funds raised will allow us to fulfill payment to the artists and start our social media marketing campaign. As a new platform, we want to do our best job to build an audience for our first episodes and increase the impact of our work. Our goal is to make UPFRNT a sustainable platform that can continue to stimulate the Black arts community in Cleveland through the pandemic and beyond. 

why we're doing it

UPFRNT was conceived in May 2020 at the peak of the pandemic and massive protests for Black Lives across the country. I work part-time as an editor at Pixel Planet Studios, and my boss Anthony asked for my help coming up with ways to leverage our resources as a production company to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. He had the idea of putting together a virtual concert, and months later it has evolved into what is being presented here today.

For centuries, Black art has been exploited and appropriated for profit by white-run industries. Even today, while many recognize the issue, the music industry has not evolved to fairly compensate Black artists for their craft. This issue spills across different mediums and professions, and UPFRNT sees an opportunity to do things differently. We are creating an ethical venue for Black artists to share their craft through the pandemic and beyond.

This year has demanded innovation in the performance industry due to COVID-19. Musicians, dancers, and other entertainers whose main income is often from in-person events have been jolted into a virtual space. Attempts to monetize these events are not always successful, and the quality can also have a negative impact. UPFRNT sees a need and an opportunity to elevate the virtual performance experience for performers and viewers alike. We value our artists by paying them fairly, and providing high production value. Beyond committing to paying our artists, we know that art is a leading force in global change. That's why we will dedicate time in every episode to highlight the social justice work being done by local organizations like Shooting Without Bullets and Twelve Literary Arts, encouraging our audience to support them.


Disbursed budget (12.11.20):

$9305 - Artist fees

$318 - Craft Services

$450 - Equipment

$1000 - Marketing

TOTAL RAISED = $11,323.00 $11,323.00
ioby Platform Fee waived $35.00
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived $564.40
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $249.69 $248.64
TOTAL TO DISBURSE= $11,073.31 $10,474.96


Original budget:

$9200 - artist fees

$1000 - marketing

$350 - craft services
$450 for equipment

ioby Platform Fee     waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%)    waived
"ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.) "    $246
TOTAL TO RAISE =    $10,246
Please note: ioby fees are estimated and will be calculated based on totals at the end of the campaign.    


Sorry, but this project doesn't have any updates yet.


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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