MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: B.C. Vermeersch
By Zachary Lewis
December 7, 2021
At the outset of the pandemic, when theaters, concert halls, and nightclubs shut their doors, B.C. Vermeersch and his New York-based colleagues at the Musicians Foundation developed a COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program (EGP). Virtually overnight, a resource designed to help musicians through medical pinches, natural disasters, and housing troubles transitioned smoothly into a lifeline for a group of performing artists whose livelihoods had suddenly vanished altogether. Vermeersch “immediately understood and had compassion for the biggest questions facing the lives of musicians,” recalled Jeremy Morrow, director of outreach and development at the foundation.
So great was the need for aid that, not long after the EGP went live, the online portal had to be shut down, temporarily, while Vermeersch and his colleagues sought additional support for a profession in crisis. By April 2021, the Foundation had distributed over $300,000 to musicians all over the country, often within a week of receiving applications.
The Emergency Grant Program has since been suspended, but the Foundation continues to support struggling artists, as it always has. Morrow calls it “the go-to place for professional musicians in crisis.”
Vermeersch, meanwhile, is looking at the bigger picture. In October, he won a grant to organize a national conference in 2023 where arts organizations will share pandemic best practices and other lessons learned, and together plan for the next emergency. As for Vermeersch himself, he’s playing it modest. He gives most of the credit to his colleagues and the foundation. “Being able in this pandemic to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of musicians meant that the Foundation lived up to its mission,” Vermeersch said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the ultimate satisfaction.”
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