Music Maker provides grants to artists to meet emergency and day-to-day needs. Artists who have performed for a lifetime may not be able to tour as they reach a certain age; we step in to make sure they do not have to choose between medication and food due to a dwindling performance income. Only artists over 55 years old with a yearly income of less than $18,000 are eligible for this program.
Monthly stipends of up to $200 are granted to artists in need on a recurring basis to provide for basic life needs such as food and medication. Artists like J.C. McCool, an old time guitarist of Black Mountain, N.C. just can’t make ends meet with a $400 Social Security check. JC is legally blind and 89 yrs old and can no longer work or perform publicly. The $125 MMRF sends each month allows him to buy his medication and keep up with the electric bill.
When we can channel resources from other agencies to our recipients, the impact on their life is much greater than the resources MMRF expends. Music Maker also helps connect artists with social services, assists them in obtaining passports, and helps them complete applications for government services such as HUD and social security.
Music Maker grants emergency funds to artists in the event of an unexpected situation such as illness, theft or natural disaster. These can become insurmountable for artists already living in or on the cusp of poverty.
Essie Mae Brooks has been a Music Maker recipient artist since 1995, but she’s been singing all her life. Now in her 80s, Essie is mostly retired, although she still performs occasionally at local churches near her Houston County, Georgia home. Essie receives a monthly stipend through Music Maker’s Musician Sustenance program, enabling her to live in relative comfort and still create and perform her beautiful a cappella Gospel numbers. Most recipient artists receiving monthly stipends are otherwise completely dependent on a minimal social security payment and often their families have no financial capacity to help in times of need.
When Essie’s house fell into disrepair she had no resources to fix it, and simply continued living in her home with a broken, falling-in floor and crumbling siding that was bringing the outdoors in. Fortunately, an anonymous donor made it possible for Music Maker and some dedicated volunteers to replace the siding on her house and give her a safe, comfortable place to live. Essie is so pleased to have her home restored and looks forward to continuing her performance career at venues around the world. Artists like Essie often have nowhere else to turn when experiencing a housing crisis or other emergency. The Musician Sustenance program makes grants so artists may continue living in their homes, driving their cars and playing their instruments to create the music that inspires the world.