When the waters came, the music in New Orleans stopped for the first time in 300 years. Symphony players, jazz artists and street musicians all tried to get out as best they could. The staff of Local 174-496 (New Orleans) got out safely.
The local has been under trusteeship since last year; office manager Kim Foreman is taking care of business until new bylaws and elections can take place. He works with Don Shumate, the AFM’s regional resource representative appointed to oversee the local.
Foreman evacuated the office and has been operating out of his home in Lafayette, 130 miles west of the Big Easy.
“I’d say 90 percent of our members are displaced,” Foreman told Allegro. “How many of our members will come back? Hopefully two-thirds, but that may be wishful thinking. Obviously we are going to lose some members. It will probably be two years before we even approach normalcy.”
Foreman has asked the AFM’s International Executive Board for an assistance package that includes letting Local 174-496 members off the hook for dues payments for the time being. He’s optimistic the IEB will say yes.
The AFM has already set up a Gulf Coast Relief Fund. Members can donate to the fund, and the AFM plans to disburse the money to New Orleans musicians, working with the local. The AFM will also match contributions dollar for dollar up to $100,000. Other groups, such as the Jazz Foundation, have also set up funds and programs to help. The Local 802 Executive Board voted to donate $10,000 to the AFM Gulf Coast Relief Fund and is pursuing additional ways to provide assistance to musicians displaced by the hurricane.
Most of the assistance will be administered through the New Orleans local. Therefore, in order for displaced New Orleans musicians to take advantage of any aid, they must contact Foreman to let him know how they can be reached.