A second round of relief funds is now available to Chattanooga area musicians and related workers in Tennessee.
This time the amount of available money is substantially higher, and so are the requirements for getting the funds, according to Stratton Tingle, executive director of SoundCorps, which is dedicated to growing the music economy in the Chattanooga region and is charged with distributing the funds.
Tennessee Community CARES Program, the coronavirus relief fund set up for Tennessee nonprofits organizations, has provided $100,000 to be distributed to anyone in the music industry — singers, writers, graphic artists, sound and light crew, educators, etc. — living in one of nine area counties who can prove that they have lost income because of the COVID-19 virus.
The maximum allowed via the CHA Area Musician's Relief Fund is $2,500, and "you need to make a clear case that you have experienced lost income," Tingle said.
Tingle said that while SoundCorps serves the broader region, applicants for this particular grant must live in either Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, or Sequatchie counties to qualify.
He added that he has no doubt that many in the area have lost that much or more, but that there needs to be a paper trail proving it.
"Where people get tripped up is in not having contracts" or even emails or texts indicating that an event or job was canceled because of the virus, he said.
SoundCorps received $8,100 in July from the UNFoundation of Chattanooga and private donors and distributed it to 81 eligible applicants. Tingle said he expects many more than that to meet the Friday, 11:59 p.m. Oct. 30 deadline. Applicants who qualify for funding will be notified by Nov. 7, Tingle said.
He said the application process is a little more stringent this time around because of the amount of funds and because of lessons learned since March, when the virus essentially shut down the live music industry.
SoundCorps board member Monica Kinsey said, "The live events and entertainment industry is shut down and has received little to no relief from the government. All aspects of the live events and entertainment industry are dying before our eyes, and I don't think the general public understands how many people are out of work. Many have not only lost their main source of income, but also any side gigs that provide supplemental income to support their families and pay bills. This industry is already underpaid, underserved and in a struggle to make ends meet, not to mention the lack of benefits.
"Data collected in two surveys we administered earlier this year show over $125k in income loss for area musicians in just the last two weeks of March."
To help applicants qualify for the money, SoundCorps has created tutorials that can be found on the website along with the application that includes sample resumes, tips on creating an electronic press kit and which printed materials are needed to demonstrate lost income.
Tingle said that many in the music industry have learned over the past six months the importance of keeping good records and approaching their work as a professional.
"There is no better time to focus and get things in order than now," he said.
He also said that most people in the industry are by nature entrepreneurs and have found ways to make or supplement their incomes in recent months, but if income was lost because of music-related jobs canceled because of the virus, they should apply for this grant money.
Among items needed are unemployment check stubs, layoff/furlough letter, email or notice or other documents showing a loss of income or hardship like medical bills related to the pandemic.
Tingle said having a well-designed electronic press kit and website, as well as an active online presence have proven to be essential for artists over the past seven months, and they are likely to be just as important or more so going forward, he said.
"There is a good chance things won't open up for live music until next fall, according to some," Tingle said.
As part of the first round of relief, SoundCorps collected data from the applicants. Tingle said the survey sample was too small to draw too much from, but he did note a couple of interesting findings.
"I thought it was interesting that so many people had earned a living making music for 20, 30, 40 years," he said. "That's a career. It was also interesting that [24%] had no other source of income, meaning they made their living through the music industry."
Tingle added even more information is being gathered during this next round of relief funding.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.