Back in Autumn 2020, I realised (and blogged!) that Hong Kong needs a charity that will help our out-of-work full time musicians, suffering primarily because of the restrictions on their livelihoods that Covid-19 has imposed. From that point onwards, I started asking people who ran/worked/used to work at charities and might be able to give me ideas/suggestions/advice. I got lucky on many levels.
I discovered my good friend Jane English, was actually co-founder of Support Act in Australia, an organisation which provides crisis relief services for Australian artists, crew and music workers, (it was founded in 1997!). Jane introduced me to the amazing Lindy Morrison who answered my many questions on structure, procedure and more. My intention for the new charity was to model existing ones with changes where necessary – why reinvent the wheel, when we can simply adapt!
I am eternally grateful to Adrian Fu and Eric Tan who were also moved by the tough times many Hong Kong musicians are going through and devoted valuable time as founding directors of the charity. It took me one minute to get Sunil Khiatani, to agree to be a co-founding member with me, as he was also shocked that many musicians had to choose between either buying food or paying rent – thankfully; not a decision many of us have to make!
A huge shout out also goes to Shane Weir, of Weir & Associates, for stepping up and assisting in the business side of setting up a charity.
So far we have a website (thank you Martin Ng for the logo) and donations page via Zicket (thank you!). Our bank accounts are being setup and we are waiting for the Inland Revenue to grant us “Section 88” AKA charity status, which will probably take a couple more months. This means we can then provide all donors with a tax-deductible receipt.
Melissa Gecolea from TVB’s Pearl Magazine did a heart-tugging documentary that aired on 2nd May 2021; she spoke to musicians who had been evicted and we hope some Government officials might even have watched it….
My goal is to get corporations and philanthropic organisations, to fund Musicians Foundation. We also need volunteers, especially people willing to spread the word and also let needy musicians know they can sign up and get help (as soon as funds starts coming in!).
In March 2021, I hosted The Underground’s first event this year, the Wild Boar Music Festival at the lovely temporary venue known as The Grounds. The weather was perfect, the bands were awesome and it was super thrilling to sell-out an event (even though it was made possible by the Hong Kong Government’s restrictions on social distancing…. requiring a maximum of 25% of normal capacity). It was still thrilling and I was so excited with the line-up and got loads of positive feedback. People had NO idea that Hong Kong has such great bands, hidden, right underneath their noses!
And don’t Hong Kong bands have awesome names too? Thanks to The Naggin Eejits, WHIZZ, Kowloon K, Murphy’s Law, Good Funk Shui, TripleSix, Shumking Mansion, Delta T 蛋撻頭, Funkee Tung, Nowhere Boys and NiLiu 逆流 who all performed amazing sets that day!
Also in March 2021, I was, amazingly enough, included in Tatler’s Asia’s Most Influential: The Culture List 2021! I was 8 (an extremely lucky number!) out of 126 people. I had to pinch myself when I saw myself there: I mean they have people like Jackson Wang, Chloé Zhao, Yo-Yo Ma, Ang Lee, BlackPink and Michelle Yeoh on the SAME LIST! Why was I even there? Well, since I am, I will use the exposure positively to bring awareness of the plight of musicians in Hong Kong and also our new charity.
Goodness, I realised I haven’t ever blogged about Noise Origin – this is the print-on-demand merch business I launched in November last year, to give another form of income stream for the music community. I partnered up with my merch supplier, whom I have worked with for nearly 10 years.
Hong Kong bands, musicians, DJs, music bars and venues have their logos/artwork/covers on products such as T-shirts, masks, hoodies and even tote bags. It’s been really fun working on this project and I personally love wearing unique designs by creative Hong Kong musicians.
I have discovered though that not many professional musicians have their own designs, logos or in many cases, even a fixed band/group they perform in. For example if someone is a professional bassist, they can play bass in any style (think reggae to death metal!) once they see the sheet music or even just chords or tab, so they are available for hire, as they are. They can drop into your band easily too, if you ever need a hired gun for your indie act!
Indie musicians are far more likely to create bands that go on to produce their own unique designs and artwork. However I am pleased to say that at least one-fifth of the stores on Noise Origin belong to professional musicians and live music venues that would gladly welcome your support. (Check out: Iris and the Rubicube, Sapiera Merch store, Bebe’s Wish, Peel Fresco, Heidi Li, Bossa Negra, NTBM (Not-to-be-missed), Rula Live, Innonations Designs, Good Funk Shui, Wong Way Down and DRUM JAM.) Browse through the site, select a Tshirt/hoodie/bag/mask with a design that you like (you can purchase from multiple bands or venues within the same order) adding each item to your shopping cart. Orders are shipped internationally.
So what else am I planning? I’m working on creating more live music festivals and large events, am involved in promoting an Xtended Reality virtual concert and all the while, will be looking for even more opportunities for musicians and bands to perform. I LOVE LIVE MUSIC and am taking very seriously my desire to serve the live music community in Hong Kong.
This week the Government announced, that the fourth wave of Covid-19, is over now, so let’s hope that it remembers to allow musicians to perform again, in bars, clubs, functions and weddings etc., from 10th June onwards. FINGERS CROSSED.