Looking for Work? We’re Here for You

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CIX, No. 7/8July, 2009

Cindy Green, LCSW

In recent months, people have been coming to the Musicians’ Assistance Program telling us how hard it is to find work. During these tricky financial times, it can become more and more challenging to make a living doing the work you love.

When your music work is not enough to sustain your lifestyle, what are the necessary steps to ensure that you can continue to pay for the basic necessities as well as not fall behind on bills and go into debt?

The Actors Fund Work Program offers help for those in this position. Its purpose is to help people in the entertainment community – including musicians – explore alternative approaches to generating income.

The AWP helps you consider your skills, abilities and interests and use them to find work outside of the entertainment business.

For some, this means finding work outside of their industry as a supplement to the work they love. Many musicians who are taking advantage of AWP are teaching music, working in offices, or designing Web sites during the day as they continue to make music at night.

By having extra money from a part time or temporary job, people are able to pursue their passion without feelings of fear and desperation.

For others, AWP is a means to change careers totally.

They are currently preparing for new careers in fields such as information management and special education.

People often come to the MAP office with financial problems, but they’re hesitant to look for work outside of the music industry, assuming it will be difficult to find any other work about which they can feel enthusiastic.

This does not have to be the case.

You can have more than one interest or career. Consider looking at this as one chapter in your life during which time you are stabilizing so that you can afford to continue to be a musician.

Living in a state of anxiety can negatively affect your ability to engage in music making. Investing some time in generating other income will unburden you in a way that enable you to produce your art freely, without the worry of financial strain. If you are a member of Local 802, you are eligible to participate.

To use AWP services, you need to first attend an orientation. These are held every Monday (except holidays) from noon to 2:30 at 729 Seventh Avenue on the 11th floor.

After your orientation, you’ll have access to all AWP’s groups and services, including individual career counseling, networking, job search, resume writing, interview coaching, the computer lab and classes.

Beginning this month, you can look into AWP’s newest group, Career Exploration 101, created for people who do not know where to start when it comes to identifying their non-entertainment industry skills, abilities and interests.

This exciting new group will meet on the third and fourth Friday of each month.

AWP offers a community of people in the performing arts who understand your particular struggles.

I recently met with AWP staff Rich Renner and Patch Schwadron who both reported an increase in the number of musicians attending AWP groups and programs.

Interestingly, Rich is a freelance trombonist who plays gigs regularly, but finances his musicianship by working at AWP. He’s still a musician while earning his living outside of the industry.

AWP and the MAP office recognize that this is a difficult time for everyone in the arts.

If you find yourself struggling, call the MAP office at (212) 397-4802 to discuss whether or not the Actors Fund Work Program is right for you.

You can also e-mail us at

We’re here for you.