The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)

The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)

A step toward keeping music alive in the pandemic, beyond

With Snohomish County Music Project as fiscal sponsor, Fisherman’s festival group can get donations.

One is a nonprofit, the other is not. One is focused on mental health and healing, the other on live performances and entertainment. They’re different, yet they share a common foundation — the magic of music.

Now, the Everett Music Initiative, which in pre-COVID times put on the popular Fisherman’s Village Music Festival, has entered into an agreement with the Snohomish County Music Project. It’s called a fiscal sponsorship.

Ryan Crowther, the Everett Music Initiative’s founder and leader, announced this week that the nonprofit Snohomish County Music Project will serve as his group’s fiscal sponsor. Music therapy is the mission of that human services group, which evolved from a symphony organization. The Snohomish County Music Project serves military veterans, people in recovery from substance abuse, at-risk youth and others.

The arrangement makes Crowther’s organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions and apply for grants. Those are lifelines at a time when the Everett Music Initiative hasn’t been able to produce a live, in-person event in more than a year. Crowther said it’s a first step in plans for his organization to become a nonprofit.

In May 2019, about 50 local, regional and national acts entertained Fisherman’s Village festival crowds over three days at several downtown venues and an outdoor stage near Everett Station. Headliners that year were Seattle area rapper Travis Thompson and Wolf Parade, a Canadian indie-rock band.

“What we do best is events,” said Crowther, who runs a public relations business and launched the Everett Music Initiative in 2012. Due to the pandemic, he said, “anyone who has a connection to live music and live art, that was the first thing taken from us, and probably will be the last to come back.”

Along with fiscal sponsorship, Crowther said a new Founding Members program is being started to encourage investment in the Everett Music Initiative. Contributors, through various tiers of donation, will get perks such as tickets to shows and invitations to VIP events, he said.

Vasheti Quiros is executive director of the Snohomish County Music Project, which in 2019 moved into a former funeral home on Pacific Avenue in downtown Everett. Its previous home was once an Everett Mall movie theater.

Explaining fiscal sponsorship, Quiros said the Everett Music Initiative will be a “sub organization.” An account established under the Snohomish County Music Project’s bank account will be specifically for the EMI’s fundraising. “They’ll manage the revenue,” she said. “Their funds will be completely separate from our funds. They’ll utilize our 501(c)(3) so they can receive donations.”

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the arrangement offers a way for a cause to attract donors when it is not yet recognized as tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).

“We’re vouching for them in that way,” said Erica Lee, the music project’s associate director. “It’s really cool to mutually engage the community in music, although with a very different focus.”

Crowther and Quiros met through Leadership Snohomish County, a leadership development nonprofit, Lee said.

During the pandemic, with $100,000 from the federal CARES Act, Quiros said the Snohomish County Music Project has maintained its staff and continues to help clients. It has established a music therapy scholarship program and served people through a food delivery effort assisted by Volunteers of America Western Washington.

By partnering with the Everett Music Initiative, Quiros said, “we want to do whatever we can to help the arts and culture continue in the city of Everett.”

David James is a contributor through EMI’s fledgling Founding Members program. The Everett man said he was coaxed to attend the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival for the first time in 2016. He planned to stay a couple hours at the Historic Everett Theatre, one of the festival’s venues. Instead, he enjoyed performances from mid-afternoon until 11:30 p.m. that night.

“It has changed the way I discover and listen to music,” said James, 61, who met Crowther at the Schack Arts Center. James added that his wife, Judy Pascale, has been a fan of local music. They’ve attended music events at the Black Lab Gallery, Narrative Coffee and Tony V’s Garage as well as at the old theater.

Spooky Mansion performs at Tony V’s Garage during the 2018 Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in Everett. (Ian Terry/Herald file)

Spooky Mansion performs at Tony V’s Garage during the 2018 Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in Everett. (Ian Terry/Herald file)

James didn’t share the amount of his donation, but said he contributed keeping in mind “what we hope our city will look like” as it recovers from the COVID shutdowns.

Crowther said the pandemic has given him time to plan for the Everett Music Initiative’s future, including the possibility of becoming its own nonprofit. He’s excited for the day when fans and artists will once again enjoy the magic of live music.

The Everett Music Initiative has kept going through its virtual “Homebodies” series, which brought artists into listeners’ homes through social media. And last fall, bands were safely recorded at the Everett Historic Theatre for Fisherman’s Village broadcasts.

Later this year, Crowther hopes to stage small-capacity outdoor shows. “The recovery will be so much about getting people back out,” he said.

Julie Muhlstein:

How to help

Learn more about Everett Music Initiative and donate at:

Learn more about Snohomish County Music Project and donate at:

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