Whippoorwill Arts surveying roots musicians about wants and needs

Whippoorwill Arts, an organization founded by Jim Nunally and Nell Robinson to foster opportunities for roots artists, has embarked on an ambitious campaign to survey roots musicians in the United States to discover their wants and needs for post-pandemic careers.

Partnering with six other agencies dedicated to roots music – AFM Local 1000, Americana Music Association, The Blues Foundation, Global Fest, Folk Alliance International, and the International Bluegrass Music Association – the Whippoorwill Arts Roots Musicians Survey is seeking information from artists who earn some portion of their living performing in roots, Americana, blues, bluegrass, folk, or world music. Through a survey coordinated with social research firm, Slover Linett, Whippoorwill will gather information about the effects of declining income streams for musicians, COVID-19, and input from musicians on their needs for survival in future creative endeavors.

After conducting the survey with as many performers as they can, a report is expected in August detailing the results.

Vice President and Co-Director of Research at Slover Linett, Tanya Treptow, says that this survey will complete the artist side of similar research conducted with venue operators.

“The NIVA team [National Independent Venues Association], which led the Save Our Stages campaign, has brought vital attention to the importance of music venues across the country. This new research supported by Whippoorwill Arts completes the picture for the field, by focusing on the needs and situations of musicians. We’re already hearing from musicians that these are questions no one else has been asking them — about the impact of the pandemic, their challenges, and their aspirations. It’s an opportunity to candidly share what they’re going through and what the future looks like to them.”

The survey can be conducted online, and takes about five minutes to complete. There are personal questions posed regarding income and issues paying expenses during the COVID-19 restrictions, but the survey is anonymized so that any name or email you may provide is not associated with the data you share.

So if you have been involved in the arts as a performer in bluegrass, folk, old time, or related fields – full or part time – Whippoorwill Arts asks that you take a few minutes to complete the survey online.

Rachelle Furst, Whippoorwill Art’s program manager expects to use the results to improve the lot of working roots musicians.

“We have high hopes for using the data collected by this survey to help lead the transformation of how our society pays, respects and nurtures the creativity of professional roots musicians. We plan to create a list of values centered on nurturing professional musicians and plan to take the data collected to a national stage, with our end goal working with our member organization partners to make real change – locally, statewide and nationally. Additionally, we will use the data to expand our programming so that we can better serve musicians and artists.”

Those unable to participate online are invited to contact Survey Project Manager Joanne Gardner Lowell at research@whippoorwillarts.com

Further details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.