Support for local creatives during COVID-19 pandemic

Authored by: 
Published on: March 15th, 2020
Last updated: 2/1/21

As COVID-19 continues to grow in the New Orleans area, our local musicians and clubs are facing unprecedented challenges. New Orleanians know how to come together and support each other in trying times-- just, this time, we have to maintain physical distance. Below, we've outlined some of the resources available to artists impacted by COVID-19, as well as ways music fans can do our part to support. 

Buy music!!! We can't stress this one enough. Buying directly from the artist puts the most money in their pocket. Sites like BandcampCDBaby, iTunes, Amazon are good for browsing and purchases. Be sure to check out the artist's website for the most direct purchase option. Local record labels, too! Buying merch is another great way to support your favorite musicians. And if you already have all of the regular releases, offers customized songs from many local musicians.

If you're missing the "live" experience, follow bands and artists on their social media. Many are streaming their performances and offering "tip jars" via Venmo or other mobile payment services. Share these experiences, or share the music/videos you love with your friends on social media. Everyone is looking for something to do these days-- discovering new music is a great way to pass time. Check out today's, and upcoming, listings at the WWOZ OnlineWire

Donate to the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic has provided medical care to musicians and performing artists in New Orleans for more than 21 years. They offer occupational and comprehensive health services for musicians, performers, cultural workers and tradition bearers of New Orleans (Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Club Members). They serve any patient over the age of 19 and their family, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The NOMC also accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation's Music Relief Fund.  The fund is open to Louisiana musicians who depend on performances as a substantial part of their income. Second round applications close Thursday, April 16 at 8am.

The New Orleans Business Association has started a relief fund for gig economy workers that live in Orleans Parish. The application and full criteria and requirements are listed at this link. Currently awards rage from $500 to $1000.

Support MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance Program. This program provides critical funds for music people struggling with financial, medical or personal crises. This program offers financial assistance for medical expenses including doctor, dental and hospital bills, prescriptions, addiction recovery treatment, psychotherapy, treatment for HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other critical illnesses, as well as basic living expenses such as rent and utilities. On March 17, the Recording Academy and MusiCares launched their coronavirus specific relief fund, which can be donated and applied to at this link.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has released information for workers in Louisiana who have been impacted by COVID-19. Those who are eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits will also qualify for SNAP benefits.

As a worker, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance if:

  • Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to Coronavirus.
  • Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
  • You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.

If any of these situations apply to you, you can file a claim for unemployment insurance by visiting or calling 866-783-5567. Be sure to answer "yes" to the question, “Are you filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits for reasons related to COVID-19?" This will provide needed information to the LWC to help process your claim.

Additional assistance information for New Orleans residents is available via the city, including food assistance, legal assistance, unemployment insurance, utilities, and mental health support.

Track your losses! While there is still much uncertainty on how artists may recoup money lost from canceled events and tours, artists should be diligent in tracking the impact of COVID-19 on their work and income. Be sure to document records of cancellations, losses from ticket sales and refunds, and any other relevant from COVID-19. Though it is unclear what financial assistance for artists might look like in the future, equipping yourself with this information can help you make a case for yourself should a solution arrive.

The United States Small Business Administration will provide disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. 

The American Federation of Musicians offers assistance for musicians fighting to recover from natural disasters.

The Jazz Foundation has a Musicians' Emergency Fund, This fund provides housing assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief and direct financial support in times of crisis.

Louisiana Workforce Commission's Rapid Response Unit is available for assistance concerning temporary or permanent layoffs due to Covid-19. Workers who are impacted by closures or reduced hours may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Please see this flyer for information on how to qualify for support.

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resource is specifically designed to serve freelance artists, and those interested in supporting the independent artist community. The aggregated list contains a massive amount of free resources, opportunities, and financial relief options at the national, state, local, and private levels.

Another list of resources from American Composers' Forum

Emergency funds for women artists

CERF+ Emergency Relief Fund: Artists who have suffered from a recent, career threatening emergency, such as an illness, accident, fire or natural disaster, can apply for funding. CERF+ also has a list of resources centered around the pandemic.

Rauschenberg Emergency Grants for medical emergencies

New York Foundation for the Arts emergency grant list

The Blues Foundation Handy Artists Relief Trust Fund is available to Blues musicians and their families who are in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns.

Musicians' Foundation provides grants to U.S. musicians in any genre in a time of acute need due to personal, medical, dental, or family crisis, natural disaster, or other emergency situation.

Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund - This emergency fund can provide up to $200 for people of color that are either working artist or art administration and are affected by COVID-19.

Resources from I Care If You Listen

Foundation for Contemporary Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund

Sweet Relief COVID-19 Fund

Artists' Fellowship - A charitable foundation that financially assists professional visual artists and their families in times of emergency, disability or bereavement.

US-based finance firm Sound Royalties, LLC has announced a new $20m fund from which music creators impacted by Coronavirus can obtain no-fee royalty advances. Musicians will be able to obtain advances from the $20m pot through April 16, or until the money is depleted.

The Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation awards grants of up to $1,000 to support service and hospitality industry employees who are primary caregivers for dependent children and elderly parents.

Culture Aid Nola is working to provide direct relief to workers in the culture and hospitality sectors. CAN's priority is assisting culture and hospitality workers who may not meet the requirements of other aid programs, such as waiters, bartenders, dishwashers, tour guides, street performers, musicians and artists during the COVID-19 crises. Participants will be directed to sign up via form on the CAN website ( and will receive an email telling them when and where to pick up their meal kits. Meal kit items will vary week to week, but will usually include protein, produce, and grain based items. 

Sign up for aid: 
Sign up to volunteer:
Sign up to donate food: 

New Music Solidarity Fund: $500 emergency assistance grants to help new/creative/improvised music freelancers whose livelihood has been threatened as a result of canceled performances (opens March 31, First Come, First Served)

Donate to the NOLA Brass Musicians Fund. Musicians can apply here: New Orleans Brass Band Musician Relief Fund application

Music Covid Relief, a resource to help music professionals access information and applications to receive benefits made available by the CARES Act (Phase III of the Coronavirus Stimulus bill signed into law March 27, 2020).

City of New Orleans COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program is open to individuals whose household income has been reduced as a result of COVID-19 and that are not receiving rental assistance through other organizations.

Mental health resource: free, confidential counseling through the Louisiana Department of Health at (866) 310-7977. The New Orleans Grief Center is holding group teletherapy group sessions via Zoom. More info on that can be found at this link.

Platforms Creative Response Release Fund: up to $2000 for individual emergency relief grants for local creators

Resources for music creators during coronavirus outbreak via Soundexchange

Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists.

New Orleans Mutual Aid is a group of six residents of the Bayou St. John neighborhood organizing mutual aid responses to the coronavirus outbreak in New Orleans.

Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation Emergency Fund for Jazz Musicians - The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation | LAEF, has created The Louis Armstrong Emergency Fund for Jazz Musicians to provide much needed support to musicians in the New York Metropolitan Area. The fund has allocated one million dollars to award $1,000 one-time grants to assist individual freelance Jazz Musicians that live and/or work with regularity in the five boroughs of New York City. 

Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

If you're a person of color experiencing grief, depression, or anxiety directly related to COVID-19, and you have internet access and privacy at home, you can register for free tele-therapy.

South Louisiana Bar Owner Relief Fund - A maximum $500 one-time award will be distributed, under specific eligibility criteria, to bar owners who have suddenly found themselves without income and can breathe a little easier knowing that this relief fund can help them with their business expenses.

Financial resources for photographers

Refer someone for a low-barrier COVID-19 Cultural Relief Grants from the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans - "If you are referring a nominee, please answer the first 3 questions with your name and contact information, and the rest of the form using the information of the nominee. If you are nominating yourself, you will enter your name and contact information twice (both as the answer to the first 3 questions and as the nominee). Grants are $250. Priority will be given to those 70+ and individuals who have had difficulty accessing other forms of financial aid, but any cultural worker/practitioner who works/practices in Orleans Parish can apply. If you have further questions, please Email or call 504-327-7713 . For more information about the Music & Culture Coalition of New Orleans, please visit"

Louisiana Culture Care Fund Grants for humanities organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jazz Coalition Commission Fund

Entergy Bill Assistance Program - The program is focused on those who have filed for unemployment assistance since March, including hospitality, “gig,” and 1099 workers. To apply, text CCC to 69516 or go to

New Orleans Creative Response Relief Fund - open to artists of all disciplines. Applications due Aug. 10

Keep New Orleans Music Alive - a new nonprofit from Delfeayo Marsalis that aims to provide emergency relief to native New Orleans culture bearers. Open to musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and second line dancers.

Bee's Grocery Fund provides $50 mini-grants for hospitality and essential workers who are in need of immediate assistance to purchase groceries.

JoAnn Fabrics Minority Creative Grant Program - 20 candidates will be selected to receive $5000 in store credit. Open to Black organizations, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and charitable efforts.

Sipp Culture Artist Relief Fund is providing support to approximately 1,500 artists and arts and cultural organizations of color across diverse regions of the country in the form of crisis relief grants.

Lagniappe Krewe Fund was founded by the owners of Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group, Lagniappe Krewe Emergency Relief Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established to help hospitality workers and their immediate families during emergency situations beyond their control, which have caused financial hardship.

Got a legal issue? The ELLA Project is offering free legal support for New Orleans and Louisiana artists, musicians, and grass roots nonprofits.

MACCNO (Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans) Low-Barrier COVID-19 Cultural Relief Grants



More ideas? Have a virtual gig you're looking to promote? Please add it in the comments! 

Take care of yourselves and each other. We're all in this together.


Excellent job in writing this Carrie. You covered so much in your article. Thank you!


Get the 'OZone monthly newsletter
facebook logo
Like us on Facebook
Volunteer at WWOZ
Hear it here!