“We make all of our money through live gigs and it’s taken all of our gigs away,” said Michael Ventimiglia
Mike Ventimiglia, better known as Big Mike, is a working musician.
“I mean, I’ve done okay, I got eight CD’s and a couple of Grammy nominations. So, I make money selling CD’s. But live music is going out, and doing the live gigs is where I make my money.”
But the show, could not go on. The outbreak of COVID-19 and state-wide shelter in place order brought an immediate end to all of those live gigs, art shows and other creative forms of employment.
“My income before all this happened in March, I was making, you know, an average of $400 or $500 every week. But we had to get out and hustle for it, travel for it, but you know, you’re making a living. Now I’m making $12 a week $15 a week on Facebook shows,” said Ventimiglia.
“The artists community has been hurt really hard everything from musicians who play at events, weddings and bars and nightclubs, to visual artists who are selling their work in galleries. You know, just it runs the gamut,” said Julie Wilkerson.
Julie Wilkerson is the Executive Director of the Macon Arts Alliance.
“We have been wanting to and really, really came to the realization during this pandemic, that central Georgia needs a creative Relief Fund, which is just a pot of money where we can give small grants to artists who are facing a dire financial emergency,” said Wilkerson.
Through fundraising and a COVID—19 relief grant offered through the Community Foundation and United way, the Macon Arts Alliance, was able to secure money for artists who qualify. How much money – may be different depending on the artist and the situation, but for people like Big Mike… even a little goes a long way.
“I’m 63 and I’ve been doing this since 1974. And I’ve never had it this tough, never ever. I’ve never gone this long without a gig and there’s no end in sight,” said Ventimiglia.
For questions, contact The Macon Arts Alliance.
To apply for the Creative Response Artist Relief Application, fill out the online application.