All through March 2020, I was writing and rewriting this blog post daily. Then after each day, I would revise what I wrote and update or even change my point of view. Like almost everyone I know, I was overwhelmed with Coronavirus this, Covid-19 that. I also spent almost every day, second guessing if we could go ahead with events or not and then debating postponing them and then actually postponing them. It will not surprise me, if I have to postpone more postponed events soon…
I got told by a friend, that The Hong Kong Arts Development Council received some funding, from HK Government’s Anti-epidemic Fund, to share with the arts & creative sector. Sector D is for Individual arts practitioners who can apply for HK$7500 for work cancelled due to the epidemic. HKADC require you to have been using a “legitimate art venue” which does include the Fringe Club so this maybe helpful to some musicians. Each individual may receive a maximum of HK$7,500.
The only fund which The Underground might be able to apply for is Sector C which is entitled ” Arts projects not funded by HKADC ” which gives you HK$15,000 per event. It seems to have some unfair requirements though; you have to have been hired or collaborated on a Government related event at a Government (or HKADC-approved) venue in the past two years…
I then went looking for other possible avenues of support within Hong Kong.
First thought was C.A.S.H. (stands for Composers, Authors Society of Hong Kong – a perfect acronym for Hong Kong) where I’m a registered member. C.A.S.H. collect royalties on behalf of their members – registered songwriter and composers – from radio, TV, events and venues all over Hong Kong. They are affiliated with overseas societies such as PRS in the UK and ASCAP in the US. Sadly, C.A.S.H. don’t seem to be doing anything for songwriters or composers in Hong Kong despite having a large membership and er wads of cash. They ARE nobly cancelling their Annual Dinner (which takes place in November each year!) but no word on what they will do with the funds, that they normally use for the Annual Dinner. In comparison, PRS have a specific Covid-19 fund to financially assist UK songwriters and ASCAP have a bunch of resources and help guides for funds, for musicians and songwriters in the States. Although I just heard that ASCAP are delaying paying royalties too due to the virus…
The Hong Kong Musicians Union Group sent out a facebook post asking musicians who are facing challenges in their employment to contact them. This group seems mostly useful for Hong Kong musicians who are Filipino.
Music producer Adrian Chow has a survey for practitioners in music & entertainment in HK as he is working on collecting information to try and collect some funding for all those practitioners who cannot claim from HKADC. His survey expires on 9th April, so hurry over and complete the form now.
There is a Hong Kong Musician alliance organisation but they honestly seem to be an alliance of mostly older musicians and their focus is on hosting charity events, collecting money for charities; with no evidence of the alliance actually doing anything in support of financially-challenged musicians.
Jerry Sun has setup a HK Musicians INCOME Support Group which aims at using youtube to generate some additional income. Worth checking out as many local musicians are posting their youtube channels and you are encouraged to share their channels too.
In Singapore, six strangers across various industries heeded a call to action, volunteering their own diverse skill sets and time to launch ilostmygig.sg, a website dedicated to tracking the impact of the COVID-19 in the creative and cultural industry. So far 2400 people have shared their stories (with over 27 million Singapore dollars in lost income!) I especially like the “I want to help” page.
As The Underground, I have been asking Hong Kong musicians & bands to send me their upcoming live-stream performances, so that we can help to promote them. I am really really excited to see, how creative musicians can get, from inside their homes! I’ve heard some live music venues will be testing out live streaming (without an audience) so that is more to look forward to.
For me, I have to stop wondering, if I will ever be able to go to gigs and mosh again. I’m sure I will be! And I hope that day comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I will keep on creating and promoting live music events, as well as working on Mellow Yellow Music Festival, my outdoor festival, which I hope will be able to proceed on 12th September 2020.