By early October, the AFM’s Hurricane Relief Fund had begun to release funds to help members affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, who were referred by their locals. Numerous orchestras, bands, and freelance musicians have initiated their own fundraising efforts to help people in their recovery, including Local 802 (New York City) members who pitched in to collect funds and supplies.
In early October, the ICSOM Governing Board issued a call to action requesting donations for the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, an ICSOM member since 2003. The ICSOM Governing Board was in touch with ICSOM representative José Martin, vice president of Local 555, on the day before the storm hit. Due to power outages and lack of cell coverage, it was two weeks before they were able to reach him again. “Those musicians of the Puerto Rico Symphony truly are heroes and they have the respect and support of their ICSOM family,” says ICSOM President Paul Austin.
Martin says, in part: “Some have lost their homes to floods or winds. We’re grateful for the spiritual, heart, and material support. The musicians, as they emerge and get in touch, are stating that the orchestra will be playing for the different communities and at shelters and fundraisers for all the people affected by the hurricane.”
The call to action asked ICSOM membership, and all AFM brothers and sisters, to respond generously to the Puerto Rican members in need. At this writing, $122,500 has been collected through the Call to Action.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as Houston Symphony Orchestra (HSO) musicians, members of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), were cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey. Even though flooding near its hall cancelled a number of HSO’s concerts, the orchestra’s musicians played on. They gathered in smaller chamber groups to perform in area shelters. Although there are ongoing repairs as a result of flooding, the symphony returned to Jones Hall October 21.
A support system and assistance fund were set up to help Houston orchestra members, staff, and chorus members who had lost homes and possessions, or needed assistance with cleanup.
The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) has also given funds to hurricane affected locals. These funds provide much needed earnings for musicians who are temporarily out of work, as well as help to provide free live music for the communities that are rebuilding.