WHITEFISH — Musicians lost thousands of dollars in work as venues shut down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). But one woman started a musician's relief fund, bringing hope to those struggling during this time.
Erica von Kleist – who is a musician, teacher, and entrepreneur – says most of her gigs this year have been canceled due to COVID-19. "I've lost pretty much my entire year of work," she said. "I can't go to colleges and teach."
Von Kleist performs in a Whitefish wedding band, teaches at the University of Montana she also gives private lessons.
"Local gigs are pretty much null," said von Kleist. "Private lessons aren't bringing their kids to my house for lessons and it's really hard to teach online."
So, she started a musician's relief fund that’s designed to help Montana based musicians that make 51% or more of their income through music.
Von Kleist told MTN News that she's established a board of directors for the relief fund to help oversee the money and to be as transparent as possible.
She explained that in its six weeks, the Montana Music Relief Fund has already benefited 10 musicians -- musicians like Ross Strauser.
Strauser – who just graduated from the University of Montana with degrees in jazz studies and instrumental performance -- says his main sources of income like music lessons and performances have all been canceled.
"I think paying rent that's been kinda the big expense that I've had to deal with since this whole thing hit. Rent and groceries," said Strauser.
He told MTN News that he has since started to be a driver for Uber to make extra money to support himself, “when it's all said and done, definitely going to be out thousands of dollars.”
Von Kleist hopes this will all be over soon, but for now, she hopes this relief fund will help those struggling.
"What we do is also who we are. We're musicians," she said. "We've dedicated our entire lives to perfecting and never perfecting what we do on our given instrument and bringing it to the masses and that's what gives us the most joy. And to not be able to do that right now, we're all in a holding pattern."
If you are a Montana musician and would like to apply to the fund please email email@example.com and introduce yourself. Click here for more information on the GoFundMe account or to make a donatation.