Colorado artist-development nonprofit SpokesBUZZ has to say goodbye

“We’re heartbroken, but we’re excited about the things to come for Colorado music.”

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Sad news for the Colorado music scene: SpokesBUZZ is ceasing operations.

The Fort Collins-based nonprofit announced this morning that, “Despite our best efforts, and the love and support of people like you, we no longer have the financial resources required to carry out our mission and sustain the organization into the future.”

The grassroots artist-development group has been supporting local musicians in Fort Collins and throughout Colorado since 2009. The announcement on the SpokesBUZZ website says the end will be Sept 1. of this year.

We’re heartbroken, but we’re excited about the things to come for Colorado music,” said Dani Grant, SpokesBUZZ founder and executive director.

“It’s so heartbreaking for me because I devoted and invested so much into it and I saw so much growth because of that investment,” she added, “so it’s so hard to say ‘uncle.'”

While the nonprofit was primarily focused on the Fort Collins music scene, its impact has been felt in Denver and beyond. SpokesBUZZ showcased Colorado musicians annually at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin and was behind many a show on the Front Range.

“When we set out six years ago, Fort Collins, especially, was very unknown in terms of being an arts and culture scene, and the work that we did across the country has incredibly grown the awareness nationally, and subsequently, for northern Colorado, Denver and Colorado as a whole,” Grant said.

Back in March, Reverb reported that SpokesBUZZ would no longer have a showcase at SXSW, citing a financial strain with little ROI. In its last trip, SpokesBUZZ featured 102 Colorado acts over five days.

Since then, SpokesBUZZ has brought on its yearly roster of 12 bands and began refocusing on supporting them.

“What we tried to do is to transition the organization to be more focused on our incubation, which was our core, and it was a lot more difficult to fundraise for than the national programs,” Grant said. “We were able to get incredible support from the city of For Collins, financially, and we were able to get CSU to come through with long-term sustainable revenue sharing, but we weren’t able to get enough individual donor funding to round it out.”

With SpokesBUZZ’s success locally and at SXSW, the staff was discussing their model with like-minded people in places like Canada and Germany. They began to reach far more people, well outside of their home base.

“What I really wanted to do is see if we could channel that into direct support of artists, which is ultimately so much harder,” Grant said. “That’s very disappointing to me. I wanted the general public to be able to kick in more for local artists.”

Grant and the rest of the SpokesBUZZ crew will still be available to artists to offer support, and they know that, she said. Next, she hopes to turn her attention to gentrification and its effects on artists — preserving creative spaces.

The Underground Music Showcase day party is still on for July 30 at The Irish Rover, along with July 21 and 28 shows at the Fort Collins Illegal Pete’s and a possible farewell party in August.

SpokesBUZZ left this message for fans in today’s announcement:

“Many promising developments are on the horizon in the Colorado music scene, and on a grassroots level, bands still very much need your help. Go to shows, pay for tickets, buy music and merch, volunteer, advocate, cheer loudly and commit to keeping arts and artists thriving.”

This post has been updated throughout.

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