With hundreds of concert cancellations and bar closures dealing a major blow, the fund seeks donations to help Michigan musicians who qualify to recover some financial losses. The lowdown at Local Spins.
With the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis and today’s bar closures dealing a major blow to bands who’ve had nearly all of their performances canceled, the Michigan Music Alliance has established a relief fund to help Michigan musicians recover some of their financial losses.
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The Michigan Artist Relief Fund aims to raise $100,000 in donations which will be used to distribute payments to musicians who apply for funding help if they meet specific criteria.
The action comes after hundreds of concerts across Michigan have been canceled in recent weeks as venues, bars and restaurants struggle to cope with the ravages of the coronavirus outbreak, deal with canceled national tours and try to meet various restrictions limiting attendance at their shows.
And today, the news got even worse: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the closure of all bars in the state, as well as limiting restaurants to takeout service only. The order will take effect at 3 p.m. Monday (March 16).
That means all concerts at these venues are canceled for the foreseeable future, adding to losses being felt by independent bands and solo artists.
“It’s pretty devastating,” said Emilee Petersmark of the Grand Rapids folk-rock band The Crane Wives. “It’s not just our music careers that have been affected. Our side jobs are cutting hours, if not telling us to stay home altogether.”
Added Traverse City singer-songwriter Joshua Davis: “I had a huge couple months lined up. They’re gone. Some are rescheduled. Some aren’t. I lost an incredible amount of money in one day.”
The Michigan Artist Relief Fund was inspired by a similar effort launched by the city of Boston to assist its arts community. The Michigan Music Alliance is partnering with Grand Haven’s Walk the Beat and Crooked Tree Creative on this initiative, which also is seeking assistance from state and local governments as well as corporate sponsors.
ASSISTING THOSE ‘WHO MAKE INCOME THROUGH GIGS AND FREELANCE MUSIC’
“As an agency representing 20 musical acts and housing a team of five agents, we are feeling all of the aspects in which COVID-19 is impacting the music industry on a personal level,” said Elle Pellegrom, of Grand Haven, executive director of Michigan Music Alliance and head of Crooked Tree Creative.
“I’m hoping this helps ease some of the pains and give some hope in the storm of bad news and constant cancellations. All of our 20 artists have had a show, or all of them in the next three weeks cancel.”
The fund is aimed at assisting “people who make income fully through gigs and freelance music work” who’ve lost “critical opportunities to support their well-being.”
The fund will welcome applications from “any full-time musicians living in Michigan, but will prioritize artists with severe financial impact. The fund will be open for recouping financial losses due to canceled music events.”
Organizers also are selling “Support Michigan Music” T-shirts for $20, with proceeds added to the fund. Order T-shirts here.
In northern Michigan, the Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, based in Bellaire, has started a similar “emergency fund” to provide funds “for artists in need right now.” The fund started with $9,000 and is actively raising more money to expand the service. Get details here.
A TREND TOWARD ‘STAY AT HOME’ LIVE-STREAMING CONCERTS
Pellegrom said the Michigan Music Alliance’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is aimed at supporting efforts that solo artists and bands are taking “to reschedule, postpone and move concerts to live-streaming.”
Several bands and artists – including Davis, Kalamazoo’s Megan Dooley and Celtic music’s The Moxie Strings – have or are hosting live-streamed concerts on Facebook and elsewhere online to stay connected with their fans despite canceled shows.
“I just needed to play and it seemed like people wanted to listen. It felt good,” said Davis, who live-streamed a performance at home after a Friday night concert in Grand Haven was postponed.
Petersmark and her partner, Korey Schnell, have started a digital concert series dubbed, “Stay in Your House Shows,” with Facebook serving as a “virtual venue” for a couple of live shows each month. There’s a link to donate to the performing musicians via PayPal.
The first one takes place on Friday (March 20) with sets by Dan Rickabus, Steve Leaf, Loren Johnson, Justin Stover and Petersmark. Details here.
For many artists, the income lost from canceled – rather than postponed concerts – can’t be recovered, including merchandise sold at those shows.
Olivia Mainville, who fronts Via Mardot and Olivia & The Aquatic Troupe, has had had several March performances canceled and April is uncertain.
“For most musicians, this is a pretty hard blow to their financial career,” she said. “I’m one of many musicians who solely rely on show and merch money. But as always, I’ll continue to be as frugal as possible while supporting my fellow artists and local shopkeepers as much as I can.”
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