This Art Collective Is on a Mission to Help Puerto Rico’s Indie Musicians After Hurricane María

No Comments 8 November 2017

This Art Collective Is on a Mission to Help Puerto Rico’s Indie Musicians After Hurricane María

Lastst week, a new initiative launched to deliver financial aid directly to Puerto Rico’s independent music scene. Organized by Buscabulla‘s Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle, along with Latina folk and rock stalwart Ani Cordero, the Puerto Rico Independent Musicians and Artists Fund (PRIMA) aims to directly serve that community, which until now wasn’t specifically identified by any other fundraising effort.

By Jhoni Jackson

Both Berrios and Cordero stress: This is an emergency fund.
“People are leaving; people have already left,” Berrios says. “People are running out of money and running out of options.”
Donations received will be released as $500 micro-grants on a rolling basis; Cordero says three to four recipients will be announced this week. They want cash in the hands of independent musicians by Christmas, she explains.

“That is our world, and we know what it’s like as musicians to live so close to the edge anyway,” Cordero says. “And to have something like this hurricane come along and cancel all your gigs; it’s a pretty heavy blow.”

Feeling desperate, helpless — these are common descriptors stateside Boricuas ascribe to tracking Hurricane María from September 20, when the storm battered the island. They watched from afar as the disaster devolved into a dangerous humanitarian crisis. Today, two-and-a-half months later, recovery remains a faraway goal: Electricity restoration hangs around 40 percent, and about 20 percent of Puerto Ricans still don’t have water service. The complications of those numbers — and the agonizing lag of getting there — have wrought fatal consequences. Even at its least impactful, the sluggish recovery has absolutely stalled people’s lives.

Alfredo Richner, founder of beloved music blog Puerto Rico Indie and owner of the Discos Díaspora label, has worked with the PRIMA team from the get-go as an on-the-ground consultant. Polling Facebook to identify needs within the scene — significant damage to people’s homes, loss of property and gear, dwindling or depleted income and savings — was a step Richner took before the fund was started. He spoke separately to Berrios, who, with her partner, remains well-connected to the island’s scene. Cordero visited earlier in the year and had expressed wanting to get more involved. On his suggestion that they connect, the two New York-based musicians, who hadn’t met before, began brainstorming.

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