With the Help of a Bunch of Really Big Stars, Grammy Week Heads to Schools Virtually

H.E.R., HAIM, Charlie Puth, and others are part of this year’s virtual Grammy in the Schools Fest

When the Grammy Museum closed its doors on March 13, 2020, its future amid the emerging pandemic looked grim. With the halls of the 30,000-square-foot space barren for the first time since the museum opened in 2008, the museum’s president, Michael Sticka, knew that he and his team were at a turning point. That morning, he wrote his staff a note: “Our doors are closed, but our mission is open. We’ve got to keep this going.” By March 18, the museum had publicly released a detailed content schedule, including weekly virtual retrospective exhibits. In the months that followed, it had completely pivoted towards the digital world, launching a platform for music education at home, hosting artist programs and masterclasses via Zoom, and creating their own streaming service, Collection:live, available on Apple, Roku, and Android TV.

Sticka didn’t look at the museum’s new virtual branch as a quick fix that would be abandoned once its doors were permitted to open again—he saw it as part of the fabric of the museum’s future. Leading up to both the one-year anniversary of the museum’s closure and its annual Grammy in the Schools event, the museum leaned into the digital world it had created over the previous 11 months, and came up with the concept for a brand new, four-day virtual music education festival, live streamed to students across the country.

“We’ve been so great about pivoting and creating a digital museum, so we thought, why stop there? Let’s take this to the next level,” Sticka explains.

With the inaugural virtual Grammy in the Schools Fest, the museum hopes to localize the Grammy Week experience in cities and schools nationwide (this year’s big show is on March 14). Featuring performances and panels from both current and previous Grammy nominees—including H.E.R., Charlie Puth, HAIM, and Hunter Hayes—the GITS fest is completely free to the public to attend. Over 100,000 guests have already registered for the event, which runs from March 8 to March 11, ultimately allowing the museum to increase the reach of its music education programs unlike ever before.

“We’ve built this event celebrating music education and we’re increasing that impact at a time when we’re closed,” Sticka says. “That’s something almost emotional to think about.”

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