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Musicians start Go Fund Me to help colleagues hurt by COVID-19

Musicians start Go Fund Me to help colleagues hurt by COVID-19

Ben Nisbet, his girlfriend Katie Haverly and KXCI's Hannah Levin have launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for musicians impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

A trio of Tucson musicians has launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help their colleagues cope with the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its first 24 hours, "Tucson Musicians COVID19 Relief" (tinyurl.com/s3tzqk2), which went live Sunday night, had raised more than $4,000 of its $25,000 goal. The fund is being spearheaded by Ben Nisbet, a violinist and guitar player; his singer-songwriter girlfriend Katie Haverly; and KXCI personality Hannah Levin, and the trio is hoping to raise far more than the initial $25,000 goal.

The campaign will distribute money to musicians who fill out a survey that gauges their losses and needs. The link to the survey is on the Go Fund Me page and Nisbet said as of Monday evening, about 20 people had responded.

"But we know that there are a lot of people out there who are afraid to ask for help. We're trying to message out to people that it's OK to ask for help," he said. 

But for reasons of transparency, Nisbet's group will only distribute funds to people who fill out the survey.

Nisbet said early survey responses show that many Tucson musicians estimate they are out tens of thousands of dollars, much of it from future shows cancellations.

Nisbet started planning the campaign before last week's rush of concert cancellations including the TSO and Texas signer-songwriter Robert Earl Keene,  and the downtown clubs (Fox Tucson, Rialto and Club Congress) paused operations for three weeks.

"I was shocked. I knew things were getting cancelled and things were getting ugly, but I didn't know how far out."

Nisbet said the fund will help musicians pay medical expenses, childcare and basic needs including rent and food.

"We really kind of feel like time is very much of the essence. As we get through the middle and end of the month, there are people worried about paying rent," he said. "What's happening right now is historically unprecedented. I've never seen anything like it."

Nisbet said they will keep the fund going as long as people donate.  

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch


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