‘Everything just stopped for us’: Fund created to support NM performers

Community Reports

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A group of local musicians joined together to form a relief fund to benefit New Mexico’s musicians and performers. The New Mexico Musicians Relief Fund (NMMRF) helps New Mexico-based musicians of all genres who are financially impacted by gig cancellations due to COVID-19. 

At the beginning of March last year, musician and educator Thomas Goodrich realized many of his friends were immediately impacted by the closures and event cancelations. “I didn’t even think through what I was doing, I just immediately jumped into action and started the fund. I thought even if I raised $500, it’s going to help somebody,” Goodrich said.

A month later, the Go Fund Me account had received $30,000 in donations from individuals and businesses. Goodrich quickly put together a board to help manage the fund disbursement and applications. Each of the board members is a musician and volunteers their time to represent various regions of the state.

Board member Melissa Sanchez said they wanted to make sure to give priority to artists of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled or immunocompromised artists. “We really wanted to make sure to give priority to people who might have more difficulty accessing funding, we were very assertive about that,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said they go through cycles where they focus on fundraising and accepting applications for the next round of funding. Once that money is disbursed to local artists, they begin fundraising again. Currently, applications are closed but will open again once the cumulative total exceeds $45,000. As of right now, the fund has supported 99 artists of various backgrounds and genres.

Before COVID-19 hit, Fernando Cellicion of the Traditional Zuni Dancers said he was living his dream. Performing was his full time job, but last year when everything was shut down, he and many of his dancers lost their main source of income. “Everything just stopped for us. We haven’t had a job since last year,” Cillicion said.

The Traditional Zuni Dancers was founded by Cellicion’s father as a way to preserve and pass on his knowledge of Zuni culture to his children, something Cellicion hopes he can continue doing after the pandemic. “The fund shows how much people care about musicians in New Mexico. A lot of our fellow musicians have gone through a lot, and we’re grateful to have received help from them,” Cellicion said.

Goodrich said the fund will continue for the duration of the pandemic. For more information on how to donate or apply for the fund, visit their Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/nmmrf.

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