Musically Fed: Maria Brunner And Jake Berry Help The Production Industry Feed Its Own

Maria Brunner
Shari Corbett @sharicphotography / Shari Corbett Photography
– Maria Brunner
Maria Brunner of Musically Fed at Handlebar J in Scottsdale, Ariz., during an event that donated meals primarily to the families of production professionals in need.

While those with financial resources can afford to wait out the coronavirus-prompted shutdown, many independent businesses and contractors are in crisis right now. Enter Musically Fed, an effort to help those in the business who are food insecure. 

Musically Fed was originally formed to repurpose unused catering to feed veterans, but as the need among live industry professionals has grown, it has held events to feed those in need in Phoenix and Denver, partnering with Rhino Staging. The company identifies families, musicians and production professionals invites them to establishments such as Handlebar J who provided all of the hot meals for the families to take. The Duce is providing hot meals for 140 for the second time at the next drive-in on June 3rd.

Already having served more than 1,000 meals primarily to the families of production professionals, the organization is looking to expand to more cities (like Nashville and San Diego) and seeking to partner with industry professionals who can identify those in need and help provide for funds and/or food donations.

Insight Management’s Maria Brunner and concert production guru Jake Berry discuss the organization’s efforts and how things are going. 
Jake Berry: One day Maria called me up and said, ‘I’m getting calls from local stagehands asking about Musically Fed because with no work they are suffering financially.’ They are finding it hard to live, basically. So it was her idea to reach out to clubs in Phoenix and figure out how to go about getting food to these families.
I had the idea to go to Rhino Staging, which supplies a lot of staging for shows in Phoenix and around America. I knew the owner, Jeff Giek, so we got on the phone, we did a three-way call and got Jeff involved, and we kind of put him on the spot. I asked if he would match our contributions. It took him exactly one second to say ‘I’m in.’ So they did the first event and, with Rhino and Maria’s contacts in Arizona catering, we fed 30 families. 
Helping hands
Shari Corbett @sharicphotography / Shari Corbett Photography
– Helping hands
Bill Berry and Dan Walton of Resurrection Street Ministry unloading at The Van Buren in Phoenix, Ariz.

You had to register, there were no people just showing up causing a big melee and a big disappointment. And a lot of the people we reached out to were honest and said, ‘We’re OK, give this to people who need it more.’ 

It was amazing, the look on peoples’ faces was amazing. There’s also another company involved called NRG. Also, Terry Burke of Live Nation in Phoenix is involved. They did another one the following week. So with Jeff from Rhino, we had this big idea that these efforts could engulf the whole of America. We also realized Rome wasn’t built in a day and we couldn’t go everywhere immediately, but Maria had a local contact in Denver, so we went there. 
We got a hold of Chris Schuman of James Thomas Productions. I blindsided him really, but he wanted to contribute. Now we’re looking at places like Vegas. We’re basically looking at every place in America. But what we need is help from the local companies in these areas to fund this. If you are a local company and you’ve done very well with your stagehands over the years, maybe now is the time to give something back to them. We’re looking for people to pick up on this, and it’s only for local professionals in your area and we are concentrated on the areas we specialize in. 
For all those who concentrate on the performing arts, we can do an event with local organizations and basically show them how to do it. Musically Fed is an idea that we hope can spread to help all the stagehands that are hurting right now. Obviously there are also box office people, venue cleaners who are totally affected by this shutdown, but as a production manager, when the business comes back we’re gonna need these production professionals specifically. If they can’t come back, we’re going to have to train a whole new group of people.

Give it away now
Shari Corbett @sharicphotography / Shari Corbett Photography
– Give it away now
Dan Walton of Resurrection Street Ministry at Rhino Staging’s facilties in Tempe, Ariz.

Maria Brunner:  When the pandemic hit, we knew we needed to pivot to be relevant. What we want is for local companies to take care of these local workers and show that they matter. Thanks to Jake and the introduction to Jeff Giek, Musically Fed is striving to collaborate with Rhino Staging and others to help as many as possible in our music/entertainment community. Terry Burke from Live Nation is also a big supporter of this endeavor. Our focus became how to help our own community, in particular staging and production. To quote Jeff, “production and staging crews are the first in and last out. In this case, they’re the first fired and the last hired back.” 

We are, of course, concerned about PPE and safety, and with Rhino’s stellar safety record, we are designing safety procedures that protect not only those we serve but staff and volunteers as well. We appreciate Rhino’s sense of “family” and teamwork, thus, Musically Fed reached out to Justin Levy and Conscious Alliance in Boulder who came aboard to collaborate on a program with Rhino to serve the community in Denver. That program is ongoing weekly. 
We just work hard. And the “we” is a collective “we” of Rhino staff and Musically Fed volunteers. Jeff and Jake have been a godsend, they are giving some structure to what we’re doing, in terms of operations. The important thing is that this is not an exclusive operation, this is inclusive, and it is growing quickly. Just this week four venues have called me asking how they can help in their own communities. We are prepared to educate, train, and connect with those venues. 
Interested parties can contact Musically Fed at [email protected] or (480) 951-1882 and see for more info. 


Rhino style
Shari Corbett @sharicphotography / Shari Corbett Photography
– Rhino style
Jenna Craig and Rick Stuart of Rhino Staging moving frozen goods at Rhino Staging’s facilities in Tempe, Ariz.