New England Musicians Relief Fund (NEMRF) has launched a new fundraising drive and hopes to distribute $200,000 to musicians in need in time for the holidays. NEMRF was created in 2020 to help musicians dealing with the financial strain that the pandemic has put on the entertainment industry. Any musician in New England and New York’s Upper Hudson Valley facing financial difficulties can apply for a grant at NEMRF.org/apply.
The crisis is deepening for professional musicians across the region. Money from the CARES Act has run out and additional government support doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. The financial strain has many facing difficult choices.
“Eight months in, push is coming to shove. For some of us, it is already ‘game over.’ For others, it is a struggle to redefine what we do. For all of us, it is a question of who we are and what we serve,” said violinist and single mom Katherine Winterstein. “It is no longer a question of endurance as much as it is a question of whether or not we can meaningfully adapt to the limited set of options in this new world. It’s hard to even consider those questions when basic survival is still on the line.”
“We’re facing a winter, and possibly longer, of no work and no income. I’m very concerned,” says legendary vocalist Wanda Houston of the Berkshires.
“The future seems so bleak that I’m just trying not to think about it,” said Boston based violinist Zoya Tsvetkova. “I hear a symphony on the radio or TV and I start to cry. If I didn’t have a 2-year-old, I’d consider getting another job, but we can’t afford childcare on my husband’s salary alone.”
Winterstein, Houston and Tsvetkova’s stories are like those of countless other professional musicians across New England. Many are freelance workers who count on the holidays to make the bulk of their yearly earnings, but this year, COVID restrictions mean that concert halls, theatres, clubs and other performance venues remain closed. NEMRF provides professional musicians across New England and New York’s Upper Hudson Valley facing economic hardship a $1,000 grant to assist them through the difficult times so they can continue to do what they love and bring joy to us all.
“Without assistance, some musicians will leave the industry, which could devastate our once-vibrant New England arts scene. Helping musicians today is an investment in the quality of life we all hope to return to,” said Hazel Dean Davis, a horn player and one of the founders of NEMRF. “We created NEMRF to help musicians weather the COVID-19 shutdown, but even as we devote all our resources to this current crisis, we realize the need for a safety net will extend beyond the virus. Whether it is long term side effects from COVID, a car accident, a lost instrument, or another nationwide shutdown, the New England Musicians Relief Fund will be here to support musicians in crisis for years to come.”
Musicians can find the online application for the Immediate Relief campaign funds at NEMRF.org/apply.
Supporters wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to the Immediate Relief Fund may do so at NEMRF.org/takeaction.