Musicares And The Grammy Foundation Reflect On A Year Of Hurricane Relief Work
The hurricanes of 2005 brought profound, life-altering devastation to the residents of the Gulf Coast and the cultural landscape of New Orleans. Amid the panic, disbelief and emergency response efforts, The Recording Academy and MusiCares sought a way to help those directly affected by the disasters and created the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund with an initial contribution of $1 million. This fund was established within three days for the sole purpose of providing immediate and crucial assistance to music industry professionals impacted by the disaster. The speed of this response, coupled with the attention given the crisis, resulted in additional support for MusiCares.
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To date, the Relief Fund has provided more than $3.5 million in financial assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing, gasoline, transportation and medications, as well as instruments and other supplies, to approximately 3,500 individuals directly affected by the disasters. As the months have progressed, music people's requests have shifted from immediate basic needs to longer-term, deeper requirements including rent, relocation costs and funds for medical care that had been postponed.
In addition to this work, the GRAMMY Foundation, MusiCares' sister nonprofit organization, established a special grant cycle to archive and preserve recorded sound collections of the Gulf Coast. The Foundation's Grant Program recently announced that $250,000 in grants have been awarded to 10 recipients to help facilitate an extraordinary range of ventures, including: the rescue of an at-risk collection of culturally significant radio transcriptions and their source production recordings by such artists as Fats Domino, Al Hirt, and the Nevilles; the cataloging and digital transfer of a collection of southern Louisiana roots music to make it more publicly accessible; and the enactment of preservation measures developed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to protect collections at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation.
"The Gulf Coast hurricanes created tremendous hardship for a region whose musical heritage is profound and whose musical community is deeply rooted," said Recording Academy, MusiCares Foundation and GRAMMY Foundation President Neil Portnow. "The joint efforts of MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation have helped safeguard the legacy of this region and provide for the critical needs of its music population. It has been a privilege to give back to those people and institutions who have given us so much."
As part of its overall relief efforts, MusiCares is also a lead partner of "Music Rising," an initiative designed to raise funds to replace instruments lost by the musicians of the Gulf Coast. Since its launch in November 2005, Music Rising has replaced the instruments of more than 2,000 displaced musicians located in more than 34 states from California to New York. Clients have purchased a gamut of instruments from amps, alto saxophones, and conga and djembe drums to guitars, piccolos, trombones and violins with Music Rising funds. The pool of applicants has remained steady since the tragedy struck, and each week new clients emerge who need assistance. The number of musicians affected by the hurricanes is estimated to be as high as 7,000; this initiative aims to put musical instruments back in the hands of people who lost everything in the disaster to help them regain their livelihoods. MusiCares was joined by Gibson Guitar, the Guitar Center Music Foundation, U2's The Edge and producer Bob Ezrin in this campaign.
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