OU Partners With NMF to Create Virtual Festival

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Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and the School of Media Arts & Studies are partnering with the Nelsonville Music Festival to bring the annual festival to audiences through an innovative, virtual collaboration called Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival (VNMF).

Due to COVID-19, the four-day festival that features local, regional, national and international musicians from multiple musical genres, as well as local food vendors and artisans, was cancelled. The event has historically provided hands-on opportunities to OHIO students in several aspects of producing a music festival.

Josh Antonuccio, associate professor and director of the Scripps College of Communication’s Media Arts & Studies Program has helped implement multiple initiatives this summer to provide educational opportunities to students affected by the pandemic, with VNMF being the most comprehensive.

“Every music festival and concert has been shut down because of the pandemic, meaning students and recent grads have lost internships and jobs this summer,” Antonuccio explained. “With the trends of artists engaging virtually, we found a way to create an opportunity to still bring this festival to life in a new format, providing our students with necessary experience in the industry and giving them funding for their work.”

Students and recent graduates were able to apply for paid internships that will cover multiple skill sets needed to produce the festival, including audio production, music production and mixing, video and location recording, editing, event organization, publicity and photography.

“I’m very excited to work on the VNMF project,” Andie Walla, lecturer in video production in the School of Media Arts & Studies and longtime video producer for the festival, said. “It will be a great opportunity for a small group of students and recent grads to start doing production again in a safe environment. The pandemic has definitely hindered the production world, but the team has come up with some pretty safe and unique ideas that I’m excited to tackle.”

VNMF will include previous headliners from the festival submitting prerecorded sets from their respective locations, as well as a team comprised of OHIO students, recent graduates and faculty working with regional artists to safely do remote music shoots across southeast Ohio. The various sets will be edited together to create one virtual festival that will air later this summer.

“We’re all trying to figure out this challenging environment together. Our faculty team is seeking to be innovative and malleable in this singular moment and to produce something of value to this community and beyond,” Antonuccio said. “We aim to give artists and musicians a place to put their art in this strange marketplace, while providing a substantive industry-learning experience for our students.”

The Nelsonville Music Festival is produced by Stuart’s Opera House, a historic, non-profit theater in Nelsonville, Ohio’s historic square, and is a crucial fundraiser for the opera house. The festival was started as an opportunity to bring more people to Nelsonville and serve as a revitalization of the arts district and annual gathering for the southeast Ohio music and art-loving community. It has grown from a one-day event to a four-day camping festival hosted at Hocking College.

“I feel we all need something positive to look forward to right now,” Tim Peacock, executive director of Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival, said. “We all recognize that art and music is critical to our collective mental well-being and 2020, so far, has been hard on everyone. Having an event like this allows us to be creative during a pandemic and is a way of gathering the NMF community, even if it’s just digitally.”

Peacock added that because of the financial strain due to COVID-19, he hopes the donations for VNMF will help the small non-profit make it through the financially difficult year.

Donations for Stuart’s Opera House will be taken as the festival streams.

Those interested in donating to help support paid, educational positions for students can email Josh Antonuccio at

VNMF is sponsored by Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and School of Media Arts & Studies, The Haden DeRoberts Foundation, Ohio University’s Performing Arts and Concert Series and Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship.