Thanks to my friends at GIANT NOISE MEDIA, I was able to ask a few questions and get some good answers from Reenie Collins, executive director of HAAM. THE AUSTIN DAZE LOVES HAAM! WE BOUGHT OUR TICKETS TODAZE!
AUSTIN DAZE: Why is HAAM such a beneficial thing for musicians in Austin?
Our city takes great pride in the fact that we are the “Live Music Capital of the World”. To this end, Austin boasts over 8,000 working musicians who bring in over $2 billion in economic activity annually to Austin. Musicians are very important to our community – not only culturally, but economically. The majority of these musicians are among the “working poor,” without the ability to purchase health insurance or afford even basic health care. Over 82% of Austin’s musicians fall under the 150% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines meaning that a single person would earn $17,000 or less a year. The mission of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) is to provide access to affordable, quality healthcare for Austin’s low-income, uninsured working musicians, with a focus on prevention and wellness. By providing these safety net services HAAM enhances musician’s quality of life, in turn, enhancing the economic development of Austin. Since its inception, over 3,500 Austin musicians have received HAAM services and been provided with over $30 Million dollars in healthcare services.
AUSTIN DAZE: Tell us about what HAAM is and why it is so important for us all to support it.
Before HAAM, many musicians were not taking care of their medical, mental or dental health at all and instead would wait until, what could have been easily treated or prevented situations, turned into more costly and dangerous conditions that would then be seen by using the emergency room as their primary, and often only, source of care. The creation of HAAM changed that. HAAM is not insurance and it is not a provider – rather a community collaborative that facilitates access to effective medical, dental, mental health, hearing and vision health services. While the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) will provide much needed insurance coverage to those who are eligible, over 60 percent of HAAM members are not eligible for ACA because they make less than 100% of FPL. HAAM is still going to be needed to provide healthcare services for these musicians. For those that do opt to purchase market place insurance, there will still be dental, vision and hearing services which are not covered by ACA.
AUSTIN DAZE: Tell us about HAAM Benefit Day.
This is our 9th annual HAAM Benefit Day and to be honest, it like putting on our own mini SXSW! We have over 250 participating businesses and over 150 musical performances all over Austin. HAAM Benefit Day is sponsored by Whole Food who has been with us since the very first one. John T. Kunz – who is a member of the HAAM Board and owner of Waterloo Records – and Robin Shivers – our founder – actually came up with the idea as a way to raise both money and awareness about HAAM. HAAM Benefit Day now brings in almost a third of what we raise in a year! It is the one time of year, we ask our HAAM musicians to give back and they come out in full force; we always have more musicians than spaces to play. What a great challenge to have! HAAM Benefit Day 2014, on Tuesday, September 23, is a uniquely Austin event where businesses across Austin donate to HAAM in support of musicians’ health. Musicians perform throughout the day at businesses, retail stores, outside stages and more. Kicking off at 6am and running until well past midnight the day serves as a city wide celebration of Austin music and the community that supports the amazing musicians who call Austin home.
Donations during HAAM Benefit Day go even further, every dollar raised turns into $7 in direct services is provided to Austin musicians, who wouldn’t otherwise have access to health services that HAAM provides.
Over 200 Austin businesses participate in HAAM Benefit Day; including Whole Foods, SXSW, C3 Presents, Silicon Labs, Keller Williams, Frost Bank. HAAM Benefit Day enjoys strong local media partners that ensure that we have great coverage not only the day of the event but in the month leading up to it as well. Emmis Stations KGSR, 101.X, The Austin Chronicle, Do512, as well as other television and print media strongly support HAAM Benefit Day. For the past few years HAAM Benefit Day has attracted national and local media attention and even trended on Twitter! We are hoping to raise $350,000 this year! So every dollar counts. It is amazing to see how generous Austin is. All over town you will see our Gray Donation Boxes and just on that day alone we get over $25,000 cash from music lovers.
AUSTIN DAZE: What can we expect from HAAM Benefit Day and All ATX at ACL Live?
A rockin’ good time is what you can expect! Music, music and more music. All over Austin. As we mentioned, we have over 150 Live music performances on HAAM Benefit Day all over town. There are too many to list here, but you can download our free APP haambenefitday and see all the artists and where they are playing. You can sort by type of business if you want to find out who is giving back to HAAM on Tuesday or you can sort by area of town or type of music or even by a specific artist. It is really a cool app and we are hoping that people will use it and find out where they can support HAAM. We start the day out at Whole Foods Downtown at 6:00 am with Elizabeth McQueen and from there the day just gets better and better. KGSR is doing a live remote with us there that day and I will say that you are in for a surprise “KGSR speical guest” who will be arriving about 2 pm! But we have music going from 6:00 am – 2:00 am. There is probably not an area of town where you won’t find a HAAM show somewhere ranging from bank lobbies to restaruants to office buildings and all the Whole Foods Markets.
All ATX is also going to be incredible. This is the second Annual concert benefiting HAAM. Some of Austin’s best along with special guests Eric Burdon and The Animals and The Zombies will be playing songs from The British Invasion. You will hear songs by Alejandro Escovedo to Ian McLagan to Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis to Ruthie Foster. We will have Quiet Company, Christopher Cross and many more take the stage on Monday night. I think it is going to be a really special show mixing in some of Austin’s best with these music icons from across the pond. We are very grateful that for the second year in a row, All ATX has come out in support of HAAM.