Group to help Madison musicians who have lost gigs, income

MAMA Cares COVID-19 Fund hopes to raise $250,000.
Mama Cares Relief Fund Logo
(Graphic courtesy of John Urban)

Madison’s thriving music scene came to an abrupt halt with the mid-March shutdown of music venues and outdoor festivals out of concern for the spread of COVID-19. Local musicians across all genres lost paying gigs and continue to face an uncertain future as many places where they once performed remain closed under public health guidelines.

Into this difficult time for performing artists steps the Madison Area Music Association, or MAMA. The nonprofit organization announced today the single most ambitious initiative in its 17-year history: to raise $250,000 for individual local musicians who have lost work and wages due to the coronavirus pandemic. The MAMAS is now accepting applications from musicians in need of financial assistance.

“I’m hoping we hit that goal. I think it’s possible. I know it’s lofty,” says Rick Tvedt, treasurer and cofounder of MAMA. “We know we can’t help everybody but people who we do help we want it to be meaningful enough to make a difference for them.”

Tvedt says how much of a difference the MAMA Cares COVID-19 Fund can make will depend on how much money can be raised and how many worthy musicians apply for grants.

“We’re targeting performing musicians who have lost significant income,” Tvedt says, especially those who also lost jobs in the service industry jobs du to the pandemic. “A lot of them will have been doubly hit for sure. Tvedt says.

He says he expects to receive as many as 2,000 applications from musicians.

Mama Cares Fund Full Logo

The fundraising initiative starts today and will crescendo July 16 with an online Day of Giving. Tvedt says MAMA Cares had already started collecting seed money and matching funds from individuals, businesses and other organizations.

MAMA Cares has long existed to provide financial help for Madison-area musicians facing health issues. Local musician Robert J — who alone lost 35 gigs this spring — organizes that effort with Tvedt and the MAMA Board of Directors. The COVID-19 Fund has additional support from local video director and producer John Urban and the group he cofounded, Big Dreamers United, which helps raise money for nonprofit organizations and causes.

Tvedt says he doubts the effort to financially help musicians will end soon after July 16.

“This might just be Round One of assistance we want to do locally for these people,” he says, especially if the spikes in COVID-19 cases prompt renewed restrictions preventing live music at bars and other venues.

“It could well happen,” Tvedt says.

For more information about the MAMA CARES COVID-19 Fund and how to apply as a musician, go to

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.