The importance of supporting freelance musicians
By Hywel Sims
Musica Viva Australia has three reasons to exist - artists, children and audiences.
When the pandemic first hit in 2020, we shifted our work in schools online to ensure we could continue to bring music to children, reaching over 135,000 students to ensure that in a disrupted, volatile world, they could still experience the creative power of live music.
As one of the largest employers of freelance musicians in Australia we’ve been acutely aware of the plight artists face during the pandemic when so much work disappeared. As an organisation started by musicians (and where many of our colleagues are musicians themselves) Musica Viva Australia has felt the responsibility for providing what support we can as quickly as possible.
Therefore, in 2020, we asked audiences to donate the ticket income from cancelled performances to create an Artists’ Fund. The response was immediate and generous – and these funds were repaid to musicians as cancellation fees.
This year, as the situation for musicians worsened, the Musica Viva Board decided we should do more and so added a significant portion of reserves to the continuing generosity of our supporters. Because of this, we will have committed more than $1 million in fees to artists by the end of 2021, when we hope that - because of vaccines – the worst of COVID will have passed.
We’ve received many wonderful messages from artists since the Fund was launched. In this piece with Limelight, Michael Sollis (freelance musician and Artistic Director of Education at Musica Viva Australia) explains why supporting musicians is so important – and so appreciated.