Charities Keeping the Music Alive in the Time of COVID-19
It’s the season of giving in the time of COVID-19. For the live music industry, which has created so much joy but is now struggling for survival due to pandemic-related shutdowns, the need is particularly acute. The plight of artists, venues, crews, and professionals who make up the vast music business ecosystem tugs at our heartstrings and calls for our help. Musicians’ live-streams featuring virtual tip jars and venues holding fundraisers to make ends meet have become commonplace since the shutdowns began in March. But it hasn’t been enough.
With legislation designed to provide financial assistance to artists and live music businesses stalled in Congress, a myriad of music-related charities have stepped up to provide lifelines for those in need. But with the demand so great, funds are dwindling. For fans looking to give back, MusicFestNews has compiled a list of foundations that raise funds for artists and music industry professionals impacted by Covid-19.
Recording Academy MusiCares
Founded in 1989 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, MusiCares aids musicians who have fallen on hard times and who often have nowhere to turn for help when facing a wide range of medical, financial, and personal emergencies. MusiCares partners with outstanding artists such as Aerosmith, Dolly Parton, Perry Ferrell, Eric Church, and many others to raise funds and awareness for its charitable endeavors, including a free addiction recovery program offered to musicians in cities across the U.S. Learn how to get involved with MusiCares by clicking here.
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Established in 1994, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund helps career musicians who are experiencing illness, disability or age-related problems. The organization provides financial assistance to help pay medical bills and for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. Working across the U.S., Sweet Relief Musicians Fund offers donors myriad ways to get involved, including donating to its regional funds and those earmarked for specific genres. See how you can help by clicking here.
The oldest nonprofit of its kind in the United States, the Musicians Foundation, was established in 1914 by The Bohemians, a prestigious New York musicians club. For more than a century, the foundation has assisted musicians and their families in times of emergency, offering relief from crushing financial burdens so that artists can continue their careers. Over the years, music luminaries such as Enrico Caruso, Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Meredith Monk, and Wynton Marsalis have been active in the charity’s efforts. Find out more about the Musicians Foundation here.
New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic
Founded by a coalition of music advocates in 1998, the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic is the first of its kind in the country to address artists’ health needs, both mental and physical, and the challenges that are unique to musicians. The clinic offers occupational and comprehensive and affordable health services for musicians, performers, cultural workers, and tradition bearers of New Orleans. Get involved with the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic here.
After several tragedies struck the music industry in 2019, dozens of music professionals got together to start Backline, an industry-wide mental health initiative. With careers coming to a standstill, the day-to-day pressures of survival and uncertainty are taking their toll. Backline connects artists, music professionals, and their families with mental health and wellness resources before it’s too late. Backline partners with a number of health and wellness organizations including Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, SIMS Foundation, and Entertainment Health Services, to name a few. The collective is supported by some well-known names in the music industry, including Circles Around The Sun, Umphrey’s McGee, Cloud 9 Adventures, HeadCount, and more. See how you can help Backline here.
Jazz Foundation of America
Founded in 1989 by jazz greats Dr. Billy Taylor, Phoebe Jacobs, Ann Ruckertt, Cy Blank, and Herb Storfer, the Jazz Foundation of America was first started to preserve and promote the legacy of this uniquely American art form. To achieve this mission, they soon realized they also needed to preserve the artists who toiled in a fast-changing music industry that often left them behind. Lack of royalty payments, illness, old age, accidents, and other disasters can derail promising careers. That’s where the foundation steps in to provide disaster relief, free medical care, emergency financial assistance, and employment opportunities. Learn how to get involved with the Jazz Foundation of America here.
IBMA Bluegrass Trust Fund
Established by The International Bluegrass Music Association in 1987, The Bluegrass Trust Fund assists musicians in times of emergency need. Patterned after similar non-profits, the fund has helped over 800,000 artists who might otherwise be sidelined illness, financial stress, or other personal emergencies. Learn more about the IBMA Bluegrass Trust Fund here.
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA)
#Save Our Stages
When the pandemic hit, independent music venues around the country were the first businesses to shut down and will be among the last to open. What’s more, government relief packages were not designed for live music venues and their unique operating models. With no help in sight, 2,000 venues in all 50 states banded together to form The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). The organization couples its fundraising efforts aimed at keeping independent operators afloat with lobbying Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act. Provisions from the statute were included in the most recent Heroes Act, which is among several COVID-19 relief bills currently in doubt due to precarious negotiations between both houses of Congress. The bill would provide desperately needed grants for independent venues, promoters, producers and talent representatives. To assist NIVA in its mission click here.
Fans who’ve participated in one of Cloud 9 Adventures’ wildly fun and successful destination music events are well familiar with Positive Legacy and their good works. For those not in the know, Positive Legacy is a non-profit that works in conjunction with its parent company Cloud 9 Adventures to coordinate environmental and humanitarian service projects that attend to the needs of the communities they visit. Beginning as a grassroots, fan-based initiative in 2004 and becoming an official 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2010, Positive Legacy partners with musicians, music industry groups and other non-profits to achieve its goals. Fueled by the power of music, it has coordinated service projects in places like Costa Maya, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and more. But with destination music events canceled for the foreseeable future, Positive Legacy has refocused some of its efforts toward raising funds for music crews whose work had dried up during the pandemic. Get involved with Positive Legacy and check out what they’re up to here.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of music-related charities large and small with missions as diverse as the communities they represent. You can check out more of these organizations listed in last year’s 21 Charities That Rock. Until live music comes back, donate if you can, buy merch from your favorite artists and venues, and fill those virtual tip jars. Every little bit helps keep the music alive.