On April 4, the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI), and WWL-TV will collaborate and host Live From the Porch, a virtual concert to benefit local gig workers. Live From the Porch will feature a series of at-home performances by some of the city's most beloved musicians, such as Shamarr Allen, Robin Barnes and Pat Casey, Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, and DJ Raj Smoove. Those participating in Live From the Porch will be compensated for their performances by Krewe de Nieux, a group of local leading entrepreneurs.
The New Orleans Business Alliance donated the first $100,000 to the Gig Economy Workers Relief Fund in hopes that it would reach at least $500,000. Within its first week, the fund received major donations from the Saints and Pelicans owner Gayla Benson, Baptist Community Ministries, Gulf Coast Bank, and beyond, doubling the original contribution. Since then, the fund has reached over $380,000, thanks to donations from locals and small businesses alike.
The idea behind Live From the Porch is to raise money for the relief fund and provide income for participating musicians, many of whom have been out of work due to forced cancellations and closures because of the coronavirus. "Throughout this crisis, we have witnessed first-hand the incredible strain and burden that COVID-19 has placed upon our local artists and gig workers," said president and general manager of WWL-TV Tod Smith. Above all, the orchestraters of Live From the Porch hope it brings some much-needed joy to those hunkering down at home. "We're incredibly excited for this event, which will provide a little bit of light during this unprecedented period," said NOLABA president and CEO Quentin Messer, Jr.
Rideshare drivers, musicians, arena workers, freelancers, and festival production staff are just a few of the many gig economy workers that make up almost 10 percent of the workforce in Orleans Parish. So many of these workers depend on the city's cultural calendar for steady income, but because upcoming festivals have been either postponed or cancelled, they no longer have the economic security. "The decision to postpone French Quarter Festival was a heavy one, particularly because of the impact we knew it would have on the artists, musicians, and hospitality workers that count on our event for their livelihood," said Emily Madero, president and CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Inc.
Participating organizations hope that the Gig Economy Workers Relief Fund will provide workers with the resources they need. "We're so happy and proud to be partnering with such amazing organizations and musicians to put on this event and hopefully make a real difference for our friends and neighbors during these uncertain times," Tod Smith said. Viewers can tune in to the concert on Facebook or Instagram via the FQFI and NOLABA pages.