If you’re a musician in Las Vegas, chances are times have been tough lately. The statewide closure of music venues due to the pandemic has made the live shows all but nonexistent, leaving the future of the concert industry hazy at best.
Local singer Beverly Chillz noted that those conditions were affecting his friends—other Vegas-based artists and musicians without jobs or a platform from which to perform. Other cities have grants available, but, “We don’t really have that,” Chillz says.
“I wanted to focus on my community, my homies,” he continues. “I’m struggling as well, and I can only imagine people with kids who are artists, who are not making anything or receiving any relief but are still putting out beautiful content and trying to make the best of their situation through their art.”
Out of Chillz’s thought process, a seed was planted. What if he could get artists together for a weeklong summer camp, where performance artists not learn not only about mindfulness and leadership, but how better to take care of themselves and their community? What if he turned the pandemic’s downtime into a teaching moment—or, as he puts it, “elevate their souls and their craft?”
From that idea Camp Chillz was born—an interactive, five-day experience for artists, made by artists.
“The turnaround has been crazy,” Chillz says, adding that the entire project was done on a “zero dollar” budget. “Our videographer has 40 hours to go through and flip it, so we’re definitely in the learning process, tech-wise.”
The first iteration of Camp Chillz hosted six campers and a variety of workshops, with professional camp leaders ranging from local herbalists to Cirque du Soleil performers.
Camp Chillz wrapped up on September 4, and video from the week’s workshops can be accessed online with a donation at campchillz.org.
In the video, campers attend classes like Yoga for Leaders and learn how to make tea blends that are known to be healthy for vocal cords.
“As an artist, I need to take care of my body,” Chillz says. “Alcohol dries out your voice, [but] these things from the earth, you can use to help heal.”
“There’s a lot of work that goes into being an artist,” Chillz continues, reflecting on the ways the pandemic has thrown everyone a bit off course. “The business of art is almost a business of one’s self. Do we slip and fall behind, or do we pick each other up and find a way to create? We’re not going back to gigs as normal, and I think this is a rare opportunity for us to reinvent the wheel.”
Community work is an important part of Camp Chillz, too. While lunch was catered by two Black-owned local restaurants, Simply Pure and the Vintage Vegan Diner, campers also volunteered at Vegas Community Roots Garden to help landscape and pull weeds.
The next camp is tentatively scheduled for sometime this fall and is only open to artists, but Chillz says he’s playing with the idea of a daylong bootcamp open to all, artist or not.
“I’m excited to grow from here,” Chillz says. “I think there’s so much more room for growth and cool fun things that we can offer in the future.”