Crew Nation, Musically Fed, Just A Bunch Of Roadies Take Care Of The Backstage
While artists have been able to turn to livestreaming to make up for lost revenue from postponed tours, most staging and production crew have been without income for months – with freelancers, who can’t file for unemployment, hit especially hard. Thankfully, individuals and organizations within the live business have stepped up to help those facing financial and food insecurity.
In a normal year, nonprofit Musically Fed would be collecting unused backstage catering from concerts to donate to community organizations that feed the homeless and hungry. Musically Fed shifted gears during the pandemic by teaming up with production director Jake Berry, nonprofit Just A Bunch Of Roadies, and production companies like Rhino Staging to help the families of live event workers. Other supporters include Live Nation’s Terry Burke and Insomniac.
“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,” said Maria Brunner, founder of Insight Management and Musically Fed.
Volunteers sort and package donated food and then distribute boxes of meals, fresh produce and dry goods via COVID-safe drive-through events. After initial events in Phoenix and Denver, Musically Fed expanded its reach across the country including distributions in Nashville, Atlanta and Minneapolis. Drive-through events have continued in Phoenix twice a month.
“Thanks to [nonprofit] World Central Kitchen, along with [food bank] Second Harvest, we have been able to do a 100-car drive through every other week since October,” Brunner says. “This will continue through Dec. 28th and Bandit Lights and Clair Global take turns hosting the drive-through each week. Rhino Staging conducts the actual drive throughs and helps coordinate the folks from the gig community that attend the event.”
A drive-through distribution in the Los Angeles area is set for Dec. 19. Call (480) 951-1882 or email [email protected] to reserve a spot.
Soon after COVID shut down tours in March, Live Nation announced the creation of Crew Nation relief fund to benefit crew members, with an initial $5 million upfront contribution and a commitment to match the next $5 million in donations. By August the fund had raised $15 million – helping 15,000 crew members across 36 countries – and upped its goal to $30 million.
Meanwhile, the Recording Academy and its affiliated charitable foundation MusiCares established the COVID-19 Relief Fund in mid-March to help artists and touring professionals. So far more than $19 million has been distributed.