LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – An international celebration of music has made its way to the Coulee Region. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff shares the story of Make Music Day and the opportunity it provides for local musicians.

For the first time ever, an international day of music is being celebrated in the Coulee Region.

Monday marked La Crosse’s inaugural celebration of “Make Music Day”.

The event began in France in 1982 as a way to celebrate the summer solstice through music.

Over 1,000 cities around the globe join together on June 21st each year for free concerts featuring many different types of musicians and genres.

The Pump House Regional Arts Center was the driving force for the day to be recognized in La Crosse, with Assistant Director Allison Krzych saying it provides important exposure for local artists.

“It’s all about access and it’s all about meeting new musicians, and maybe musicians will connect with other venues and they’ll get paid jobs out of this,” Krzych said.

James Grant was one of the musicians who performed outside the Pump House on Monday afternoon, saying he was grateful for the chance to connect with the community through his music.

“Any opportunity I have to play music, whether it’s for money or for just the joy of playing music, I’ll take it,” Grant added.

Grant says bookings have been hard to come by over the past year, with his dates being cut down by more than half in 2020 before venues completely closed down.

“It shut down it November, literally, I didn’t play one date until April of this year,” Grant said.

He says that bookings are starting to come back now that pandemic restrictions are easing, with his summer nearly filled up.

Krzych believes the pandemic put a greater spotlight on the important role arts play in our lives.

“When things are hard in life as we’ve had an extraordinary year, people really look to the arts as a balm for the soul,” Krzych expressed. “It’s something that makes us feel better, it’s a way to get creative and express ourselves.”

Performances took place at venues across the city, including Downtown Main Street Inc., Bluff View Park, and even a few street corners.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

Make Music Day celebrations have spread around the world.

Concerts to commemorate the day are held in more than one thousand cities in 120 different countries.