Musicians And Artists Petition Local Leaders For Relief

A message came through my feed today reminding people that during these dark days, we have all been turning to the arts: music, movies, books, comics, poetry. We need our artists and musicians and they have bills to pay and deserve compensation.

And who do we always find at the intersection of music and social justice but the Downtown Boys, specifically guitarist and songwriter, Joey La Neve DeFrancesco. (Joey also performs as disco punker La Neve whose debut record The Vital Cord received national notice (Vice, 10.19). Joey is also a historian who gives tours at the Slater Mill and John Brown House Museum.)

As part of a national effort, Joey has organized local artists demanding “an immediate, non-discriminatory distribution of federal relief money, a rent suspension, and more” so that we can save these individuals from financial catastrophe while preserving our local scene. Many of these people have been cobbling together two and three jobs, working paycheck to paycheck. Here is their plea:

I wanted to let you know that this morning we’re launching a letter of demands from a coalition of over 200 Rhode Island musicians and artists. The statement is focused on the state’s implementation of Federal relief money, demanding that it be distributed quickly and with a minimum of barriers. It calls for funds to be distributed to undocumented people, a rent and mortgage suspension, and more.

While the new Federal relief package includes an expansion of unemployment benefits to some self-employed people, it is now up to each state to decide exactly how to distribute those funds. The musician and artist coalition seeks to ensure that Rhode Island deploys these Federal funds immediately and with a minimum of requirements. The coalition also asks that state and city governments go even further to aid our state’s struggling workers via an extension of benefits to undocumented workers, a rent and mortgage suspension, the creation of an emergency grant fund, and more. The statement is a local effort similar to a national letter of over 1000 musicians published last week, which was co-organized by Rhode Island band Downtown Boys.

Signers include: Downtown Boys, Justice Gaines, Sebastian Ruth, Orlando Hernandez, Rachel Blumberg, Death Vessel, Charlotte Abotsi, Ian O’Neil of Deertick, What Cheer? Brigade, B. Dolan, Will Schaff, MorganEve Swain, Roz Raskin, Tatyana-Marie Carlo, Xander Marro, Providence City Council Rachel Miller, and many others.

We are currently experiencing what it is like not to be able to go out — what if when we can go out, there’s nothing to do and no one to see.

(Seen here is Downtown Boys’ Victoria Ruiz and Joey DeFrancesco.)

1 thought on “Musicians And Artists Petition Local Leaders For Relief”

  1. WhAreTheDowntownBoysAnyhow

    “Letter of demands” … “It calls for funds to be distributed to undocumented people”
    Look, I’m all for helping out our citizens during this mess, but anyone who’s here illegally, I see no reason to compensate them. Go through the legal channels like you’re supposed to, or take a hike.

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