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by Sasha Parodi

Photo courtesy of Callanan & Klein PR

Dietrich Strause, 2015 winner

Every year Club Passim’s Iguana Fund seeks out artistic projects to support, which ranges from supporting a first EP recording to open mic nights for children in the community. The Iguana Fund began in 2008 as a mission to support the musical aspirations of local artists. It now has grown into a platform for musical connection and a catapult into successful careers for musicians of the New England area. Club Passim is a Boston-based music and arts non-profit organization that has, in its twenty plus years of existence, become a beacon of the folk community in the New England area. On March 14, the club will be hosting its annual showcase of the Iguana Fund recipients.

The Iguana Fund furthers Club Passim’s mission “to provide truly exceptional and interactive live musical experiences for both performers and audiences, to nurture artists at all stages of their career, and to build a vibrant music community,” as their website states.

The grant represents one of many programs that make Passim a hub of the music community.

“The number of performers who say they feel at home here is staggering,” said Abby Altman, Assistant Club Manager, “so many people consider us their home base.”

The grant supports projects of local musicians with large focuses on personal development and community service. The fund, widely known and largely celebrated, boasts an approximately 12.5% acceptance rate, according to numbers of past years. Members of the music community yearly unite as a selection committee and face the daunting task of reviewing applications. This year only 25 of the 200+ applicants will receive funding.

The search consists of three crucial criteria, as Altman explained: “Do they have a need for this financial support? Will they follow through? Will the project do something to contribute to the music community?” Only projects, which at their core answer these questions, succeed.

If selected, participants receive a platform through which they can build their image, promote their music and contribute to the community. In doing so, the grant not only supports artistic talent but also allows Passim and its members to thrive.

“I really enjoy helping to facilitate these awesome musicians,” Altman described her personal connection to the fund. “This is a chance for me to contribute in some way.”

Most importantly, the fund allows artists to celebrate their unique passions and interests.

“Boston and Berklee mean a lot to my life and I’ve written a lot of music connected to that,” explained Tracy Yang, a 2015 Fund recipient. “It’s great to have that support for songs and a topic that mean so much to me.”

Three years ago, Yang moved from Taiwan to Boston to study at Berklee. Her unique jazzy style and original compositions represent the projects of dedication and passion that the fund committee searches for.

For many musicians, the grant acts as a gateway to the music community, but it also provides a starting point for a lasting relationship with Passim itself, as former Iguana Fund recipient and current teacher at Passim Stash Wyslouch explained. The club has connected Wyslouch to the vibrant music life of the New England area and has allowed him to expand upon his metal music roots.

“It’s an awesome opportunity to get in touch with people from all walks of life who come together because they love bluegrass or old-time music,” he said. “It is a satisfying soul activity to get to be with these people.”

Club Passim plays an integral role in the local community. It unites music lovers, supports local musicians and builds the community. The organization’s grassroots and community-oriented efforts have irrevocably affected the Boston folk world, a fact that members, musicians and music aficionados all recognize.

“Some of my favorite albums are by musicians who were winners,” Altman said, “I am very aware that without the Iguana Fund some of the music I love may have never existed.”

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