Reflecting and Letting go of the vision we had for 2020, Building a different vision for 2021
by Maria Zepeda
When the year rang new, all of us at MAMA were excited for the vision of what 2020 would be. Expansion, events that spotlighted local musicians, bringing on fresh ideas and collaborators, growing in our reach, and launching our bread and butter, “MAMAcademy”. But like so many of us, we hung it up on the wall and hoped that the days would bring us better news of cases declining, communities rebuilding, and people helping people. Like so many of us, we released what little control we had and watched everything that we knew change before our very eyes.
Days passed and we began to reevaluate everything we had planned. How was a budding organization supposed to stay relevant when the music scene we had built ourselves in wasn’t even an option to participate in? How could we support all the people we had hoped to help? How were we going to impact the communities across Montana if they didn’t even know who MAMA was? It’s safe to say we began to feel defeated.
I know a lot of us felt that way this year. A collective despair hung over our lives like a dark cloud. We each wondered “when will this end?”, “what’s next?”, “what are we supposed to do now?” Like any good opportunity to grow, a challenger appears. Whether it is the voice in our heads that says we can’t, the barriers our society makes so that we can be safe, or a pandemic that throws a variety of curveballs. We had to make a decision. Stay down or get up and try again. Through the eyes of the community we were able to get back up and keep moving forward with a new focus, “plan for normal, prepare for not.”
Adapting to the changing environment we were presented with a series of gifts. Missoula Gives gave us the gift of witnessing the loyalty that existed to this music scene and the generosity of a community in times of hardship. We were gifted with dedication of individuals eager to connect, rebuild, lend their ideas, their donations, and their time to our mission. It was the gift (and curse) of zoom meetings that brought strangers together in a moment of shared desolation and grief for the loss of the shared wound, our beloved Missoula music scene. When summer hit, we were given time to focus on the internal structures of creating a nonprofit. Hunkering down we took a pause to dive deeper into the machine that is filing for 501c3 nonprofit status.
It wasn’t the way we wanted the year to go. But it was the way that it went. Instead of getting hung up on all the things we “could have done, if only the year was different”- we decided to look at all the things we did accomplish in light of a pandemic.
MAMA participated in our first ever Missoula Gives and received almost $3000 from 48 generous donors while live streaming 15 hours of 25 local artists. MAMA filed and is now recognized as a 501c3 nonprofit. MAMA appointed 9 individuals to our first official Board of Directors. MAMA hosted its first Miles of Music event, showcasing 10 artists along the Milwaukee Trail. MAMA continued to develop MAMAcademy with the help of its Education Committee to launch January 2021. MAMA continued to develop new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships through participating in upcoming events such as: ARTS Missoula- First Night Spotlight and The Missoula Arts Museum- Annual Auction. We even got to celebrate the graduation of two original MAMA movers and shakers, Jackelyn Stob (brand ambassador/ brand creator) moved East and is moving up the ranks in the world of graphic and web design. And Aeriel Martens took the knowledge she learned through the Entertainment Management program at the U of M and as president of Baby MAMA (MAMA’s collegiate affiliation) South to further the music community and advance her skillset.
The point of all this…MAMA is still here. And we are so ready to give you the events we were so eager to give. We want to help, and we won’t give up on our vision. Although it took more from us than any other year, it also gave us reflection, time to grow, gratitude for the things/people/places we have, and a drive to keep moving forward. So cheers to 2020 and all of the lessons it taught us. Don’t give up just yet my friend, we’re only going up from here.