Amber Hamilton, executive director of MMI
For the past six years, the Memphis Music Initiative
(MMI) has been nurturing music where economic or social forces often keep it from flourishing — particularly in Memphis’ communities of color. When COVID-19 hit the city in earnest, MMI was one of the first to create funding opportunities to support musicians and music education in the shelter-in-place era.
Now, three months after social distancing first took effect, MMI has released a report on how their Emergency Relief Fund, created with support from ArtsMemphis and others, has fared. And the particulars of how they distributed over $85,000 make for a fascinating snapshot of how creative and resilient our musicians and other artists are.
Their funding fell into three categories: youth grants, individual musician grants, and organizational grants. And all three sectors offer ideas on how to respond creatively to life in a pandemic.
The youth grants ranged from facilitating online learning by supplying laptops, to material support for films or mixed-media projects exploring life under quarantine, to music recording equipment to support the creation of an avant garde aria. While such support was limited to students under 20 years old, 24 individual musicians who lost all or most of their income received financial relief totaling more than $22,000. And 11 organizations affiliated with MMI received another $50,000, such as the Young Actors Guild
, or Memphis Slim House
, which was able to offer free recording time to its members.
This report surely indicates that relief efforts for music and the arts can make a significant impact on the local community, and be distributed to individuals and groups who are pushing the viral envelope, so to speak. As MMI gears up for more relief efforts, supporters can donate to the nonprofit here
. Those who want to learn more about MMI’s work can review their 2019 annual report
, released just last month.