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When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, musicians were hit particularly hard. Most of them saw their future bookings disappear virtually overnight as lockdown rules were instituted and live events were canceled. Musicians in Europe, however, had a markedly different experience to those based in America, where there is practically no safety net for artists and musicians. Without these kinds of measures in place, American artists were left struggling to make a living and searching for alternative ways to support themselves.
Today on the show we welcome Mosa Tsay, a Taiwanese-American cellist, first-generation artist, and worker-owner at Groupmuse. Tuning in you’ll hear Mosa share how the Groupmuse Foundation was founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they helped musicians through job creation programs, fundraising, and by facilitating a direct link between audience members and musicians during lockdown restrictions. We talk with Mosa about how Groupmuse went from being a private company to being a worker-run co-op and the impact this has had on the organization as a whole. She also unpacks the role of the Musical Council, and how it has allowed musicians to express their views and have an impact on the decisions that directly affect them.
Any artist who has struggled to earn a living will be aware of the toll it can take on your mental health. As a result, artists can easily devolve into a scarcity mindset, dominated by fear and anxiety. It is only by addressing the trauma that results from these experiences that artists can begin to open up to more community-minded ways of thinking. As Mosa points out “A true community can only have cultural richness if there are people within that community who can afford to be artists.” Tune in today as we discuss the difficult challenges, immense potential, and exciting opportunities of the next economy in the arts sector with the wonderful, Mosa Tsay!
Key Points From Mosa Tsay and the Groupmuse Foundation:
- How Mosa Tsay became executive director at the Groupmuse Foundation while also balancing her work as a performer. [0:04:58]
- The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on musicians, and how this led to the founding of the Groupmuse Foundation. [0:07:49]
- The ways in which the Groupmuse Foundation has supported musicians during the pandemic and thereafter. [0:09:28]
- Learn about the Planetary Music Movement at Groupmuse and the departure from more Eurocentric concert programming. [0:13:12]
- How Groupmuse transitioned from being a privately run company to being a worker-owned cooperative. [0:18:54]
- The Musician Council at Groupmuse, how it has allowed musicians to have a seat at the table, and the changes that have occurred as a result. [0:21:40]
- Mosa’s hopes for Groupmuse as a co-op in 2023, her observations about past cooperative movements, and why she is optimistic about a broader arts co-op economy. [0:27:24]
- The scarcity mindset that Mosa sees among artists and the challenge it poses to the next economy and co-ops in the arts. [0:32:18]
- The flow of funding within the arts and how to ensure that 100% of the proceeds go to artists. [0:34:32]
- How to support musicians and Groupmuse by getting involved and even hosting an event! [0:38:32]
“Within the music world, within the arts, within the nonprofit world; funding is power. And we wanted to share that power. So we wanted to share that funding.” — Mosa Tsay [0:23:34]
“During the pandemic, we were rather insular, because we just felt like there was so much work to do. And there was a lot of reimagining of our world. But now things have settled, we’re becoming better, we’re learning a lot more, and are getting better at being a worker co-op.” — Mosa Tsay [0:28:03]
“A true community can only have cultural richness if there are people within that community who can afford to be artists.” — Mosa Tsay [0:28:44]
“I’m seeing a lot more musicians understand, ‘Oh, I can’t just practice all day. That’s not going to get me a sustainable career as an artist, I can’t just focus on myself, I need to uplift my colleagues. Because by doing so, our whole community will be uplifted’.” — Mosa Tsay [0:30:55]
“We can’t hope to do anything to change out of the status quo if we don’t address first address that hurt, the fear, and the anxiety of not being able to make a living as an artist.” — Mosa Tsay [0:32:48]
Links Mentioned in Mosa Tsay and the Groupmuse Foundation:
Mosa Tsay: https://www.mosatsay.com/
Shawn Berry: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sdberry/
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