“Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them” . . . Louis Armstrong
It’s all about the music, where would we be without it? The dancers would still dance, would the singers still sing? Music is the culmination and the essential component that conveys the natural rhythm of the soul. It’s the emotional wave generated from deep within that life rides on.
Think about the music in your head that drives the urge to vocalize or make a little harmony. Where does that come from, and where would we be without it? Unimaginable, completely unimaginable – the world without music. A stretch of the mind beyond the comprehension of any human being.
Even in a remote jungle of the Amazon, the birds’ song is celebrated and translated into ceremony and ritual. In Africa, the cradle of civilization, in remote villages where they don’t even have the basics of clean drinking water, they make music. Just as water filtration is important for a healthy life, music is important for a healthy spirit.
As thousands of performing artists go into their senior years they find themselves unable to make a living using their skills. They still have the music in them, but the demand for their craft is being filled by younger artists. Most have Social Security if they were employed in a regular gig and filed taxes.
Those who played in orchestras or danced in established companies, planned for their future, but there are those who, with a freewheeling sense of tomorrow will never come, have been left struggling. As a professional and a member of the AGMA there is help available. For those musicians, dancers, performing artists, and behind the scenes support players who have fallen on hard times there is relief offered through the American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Funds.
The Fund provides capital to be used by those in need. Short term financial aid is available for rent, utilities, mental health counseling and other medical care. Not only financial assistance is made available, but also other social services, like legal aid, assistance with insurance options and community resources.
Counseling and workshops are offered on how to locate affordable housing. Each individual is taken on a case-by-case basis, but the Relief Fund has their backs. The full spectrum of aid is addressed, from elder care to child care. Whether it’s personal, family or work related the Fund is set up to make sure, as one of us, that no one is left when in a time of need.
Just one good example of the Fund in action was seen recently when a friend and senior member of the AGMA, Dave Bennet, was unfortunately laid up with a broken hip for several months. As a flutist with the Baltimore City Orchestra, he could not sit or stand to join performances for approximately 3 months. His hip fracture came with a couple of complications and left John bed-ridden for most of that time.
Only in his early 50’s, Dave knew he would get back to business as usual, but had to take the time to heal properly or suffer the consequences, later down the road. His position was not in jeopardy with the Baltimore City Orchestra, but his income would drop by several hundreds of dollars every month.
He called the AMGA and because of his good standing, was fast tracked to financial aid. He had been paying dues for over 25 years and had not had a need prior to his accident, but felt the peace of mind quickly after calling and talking with one of the capable staff members in the New York Office.
I’m happy to report that John is back playing weekly with the orchestra and salutes the efficient aid he received that helped pay his monthly expenses during his down time. We need to take care of each other. The AGMA is there for its members.