KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- So many of us are using the arts to cope during this trying time, whether it’s getting creative yourself, passing the time with movies and television, or tuning into a livestream of your favorite band or performer.
On Sunday, KCTV5’s Leslie Aguilar spoke with a group that’s helping local artists keep on creating.
Musicians are cooped up inside their homes like the rest of us and most have lost their source of income with all the canceled concerts. However, they continue to create music for the rest of us to enjoy.
Now, the Midwest Music Foundation is doing what they can to make sure those artists survive.
Royce Handy, also known as Sauce, has been a professional musician for a decade. He’s been making it his full-time gig for the last two years.
“I budget my personal income based off of shows that I have lined up that are guarantees, and then supplemental stuff is like merchandise sales, performance royalties, different things like that,” he said.
He was set to perform at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March. It was one of the first big festivals to cancel due to the coronavirus.
“We were supposed to be in New Mexico the other day so just being at home and having all that income canceled has been hard,” he said. “Trying to scramble to find ways to re-create it.”
And, he’s not alone.
“Last Sunday we would’ve been headlining a festival in Panama, which is where I was born,” said Enrique Chi.
Chi is the lead singer of a Kansas City band called Making Movies. Their music is big in the Latino world. Now, a cross country tour is canceled.
That is concerning considering most musicians get 80 percent of their revenue from performing.
“Artists have to be on the road playing shows to survive and that does concern me because I think that the situation will evolve and I think that concerts will be one of the last things to be turned back on,” Chi said.
Rhonda Lyne is the head the Midwest Music Foundation, which supports KC-area artists with funding for healthcare and other services.
“We’re also seeing venue employees, sound engineers who work sound for shows,” she said. “There aren’t any shows right now.”
Their big, yearly fundraiser set for April was launched early due to COVID-19 and is entirely online.
So far, they’ve raised about $40,000 and given away more than half of it to people struggling to make ends meet in the music industry.
Local musicians have even stepped up to help their fellow local musicians by holding benefit concerts via livestream.
Victor and Penny raised about $20,000 online. Rex Hobart renovated his basement to look like a popular West Bottoms bar to perform on Facebook.
“I am hoping, after this, everybody is really going to go out and support those artists how they can in real life,” Lyne said. “A lot of them have been doing amazing online but they need that support year-round to keep making the music that they do.”
After all, what is life without music?
“Music for the soundtrack to our lives,” said Lyne. “We have it at our weddings, our funerals. Everybody. Music is everywhere you go.”
A lot of local artists are also offering free online music classes for young people during this time.
Making Movies the Band has a nonprofit and right now they’re having different Grammy award winning musicians host free online workshops on Tuesday nights. You can check that out here.
To learn more about the Midwest Music Foundation, click here.