As Hurricane Ida moved into southeast Louisiana, Nate Cameron and his family were in Little Rock, Arkansas, keeping a close eye on the news. At the same time, musician Pell was doing the same in Los Angeles.
The two New Orleans residents called and texted each other as well as to the other members of GLBL WRMNG, the collective of rappers, songwriters and producers they had formed at the start of the year, to making sure people had funds and what they needed to get out of town. or weather the storm. They drew on some personal funds and money that GLBL WRMNG had earned through a few recent live events to help. But as the storm hit Louisiana, they knew the need was going to be immense.
“We were just like, what can we do? How can we use our influence, our connection to this demographic of creatives in the region and also our connection to bigger companies and businesses? Cameron said. A music industry professional, Cameron is Tour Director for Tank and the Bangas and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans.
GLBL WRMNG has started collecting donations – both from the public and the companies Cameron and Pell have worked with – to turn around and send to black and brown musicians and artists affected by Ida. They’ve implemented a minimal Google form asking for a name, phone number, number of people in the household, and what’s needed, and have so far raised around $ 5,500 and distributed over $ 6,000 directly. to more than 70 people.
“People have been really responsive,” Cameron says. “So many New Orleanians have given. It’s moving to see people who are going through the same thing but who are in places of even temporary privilege say: “Look, I don’t have much but I want to give this. “
In addition to the “GLBL” aspect, people in four countries outside of the United States have donated, Cameron adds.
In Ida’s wake, musicians from New Orleans have mobilized for each other and for the region. The hurricane is just the latest disaster to hit the cultural community: COVID-19 wiped out months of concerts and the 2020 festival season, then the Delta variant leapt up and wiped out an entire second season. Musicians have had to learn the hard way how far a dollar can go, but they jump at the chance to help.
When the lights went out after Ida, the heart of New Orleans shone
Like GLBL WRMNG, Boyfriend and Louis Michot (read more about his efforts here), musicians use their platforms to fundraise either to offer direct help or to support a self-help organization. The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans has relaunched its micro-grants program – an initiative created at the start of Covid to provide low-barrier financial assistance to the city’s culture bearers – as has the Preservation Hall Foundation with its own Musician Relief Fund. Both programs are currently asking for donations to help fund grants.
And the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation has been on the ground to help seniors and clients with supplies and mental and physical health checkups. NOMC has also worked with The Howlin ‘Wolf and Culture Aid NOLA in their food distribution efforts.
The greatest needs among the artists GLBL WRMNG has helped have been funds for gasoline and accommodation, Cameron says. His wife, Krystle Sims-Cameron, also leads self-help for black women, youth and the LGBTQ community.
For the elders NOMC works with, ice to store medicine with the power cut in the midst of sweltering heat has been one of the greatest needs, says Erica Dudas, executive director of New Orleans Musicians’ Assistance Foundation.
“We thought water would be the major problem – we didn’t think electricity would be [out this long], said Dudas. “But we were ready. The day after the storm, we called our elders to find out what their status was.
The alumni list that the organization regularly checks in the wake of the storm has grown to more than 150, with NOMC delivering boxes of groceries and other essentials. The group also accepts donations to help provide health care as well as fund a financial aid program.
“It was a real test of endurance for our musicians who have already been so solicited … If it is not Covid and the inability to play, it is the town hall debate in Congo Square,” said Dudas. “All of our seniors are so tired, and they just need love right now.”
Immediately after the hurricane, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans made an effort to share information on self-help groups working in the area. The immediate decision was to direct people’s donations to organizations working on the ground here, says Ethan Ellestad, executive director of MaCCNO. Last week, MaCCNO decided to restart its micro-grant program to provide all the help possible.
“In the last 18 months, there hasn’t really been a space for people to really get back on their feet. I think that’s one of the real challenges – resources are already thin, ”says Ellestad. “I think one of the most important things is that it comes right after the governor canceled the supplementary unemployment insurance which helped workers to work.”
The musicians of the region quickly mobilized to help each other and help each other as a whole. But long-term recovery – and preparing people for the next storm – is going to require real investment by city and state in the cultural community.
“Every time there’s a disaster, you invest the money, and then you turn around and do something else,” says Ellestad. “The safety net, you have to do long-term support. “
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