Campaign Boosts Musicians Losing Work

New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund aims to provide assistance in dire times

It's been a weird few weeks in the music world, Santa Fe.

Due to COVID-19, every remaining gig SFR planned on covering this month has been canceled and gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned in New Mexico. The president is backpedaling from his earlier nonchalance about the virus while tours and festivals have been halted nationwide, leaving bands, promoters and industry workers in dire straits and with a loss of income that will likely never be fully recuperated.

Four words: It's heckin' bleak y'all.

And while it might seem that we're heading towards a total collapse of the music industry as we know it, there are those holding the line and doing their best to triage the damage currently underway.

"None of us were expecting this," says Thomas Goodrich, a musician who found a way to help. Goodrich's Gofundme campaign, dubbed the New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund, launched this week and is designed to provide cash for musicians who find themselves losing work during these strange days.

During the nascent days of the shutdown, Goodrich says he had "several conversations with colleagues who were sharing horror stories of what they were experiencing," including someone involved with the now canceled Gathering Of Nations who, Goodrich adds, "lost three months of income."

After checking with the New Mexico Music Commission (for which Goodrich works part-time), he decided to launch the crowdfunding page on his own, but it has quickly found partners in Matthew Greer of St. John's music ministries' Quintessence Choral Society and Nicolle Maniaci, the orchestra director at Bosque School and violinist with the Santa Fe Symphony. Greer and Maniaci will reportedly help Goodrich "administrate and distribute funds."

Those funds are in heavy demand, but short on supply for now. At the time of this writing, the New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund has garnered just shy of $6,000 of its $30,000 goal. Goodrich also explains that musicians who have been hit hardest by lost gigs are seeking far less in assistance than they might actually need.

"People are being good about it," Goodrich says. "Some are listing four, five, even $6,000 in lost gigs, and they're saying 'I could do OK with $700.'"

So if you're a musician, how can you apply for assistance? Simple.

There's a link in the campaign that launches to a short questionnaire. Goodrich explains that "we've asked [musicians] to identify who they are demographically, what type of music they do, and at least one gig that has been canceled, along with the date, location and amount they were to be paid. Then we're asking for the minimum amount they would need to help them get through the next month."

It's especially helpful in the wake of less-than-helpful news that the state Department of Workforce solutions can't be much help.

Queer/PoC/disabled musicians, please take note: The fund has specifically stated their intention to give preference to "artists of color, LGTBQ, and disabled artists."

(Quick point of order here: If you're the cis guy that's going to complain about this decision in the comments, first off could you not? Second, queer/disabled artists face disproportionate systemic oppression. This makes it important to center the needs of a community being hit by additional financial difficulty in this time.)

While it might look bleak on the surface, there's a lot going on that is uplifting our corner of the world with the love of music. There are virtual gigs popping up across online platforms to help ease the stress of newfound shut-ins and social distancers, people are banding together to support acts that have been abandoned on tour—folks are finding new ways to provide care and assistance to their community. By adding a means to ameliorate the distress caused by COVID-19, NMMRF has cut through the noise and the decision paralysis in a direct and promising way.

Donate if you can, even a few bucks.

Find the campaign here.

Find the Facebook group here.

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