Health Care for Musicians: The AFTRA DealAustin Convention Center, Friday, March 19
Health care is a problem nationwide. It especially affects musicians and anyone who works on a freelance basis, since the costs for coverage can be daunting. Esteemed music journalist Dave Marsh has chaired a panel on this subject for three years at SXSW, and this year he presented some good news. The workers union AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, signed a new contract last year that gained health care benefits for its members. John Connolly, AFTRA president, explained that this included singers who are union members and who record for labels that have a contract with the union. Marsh explained that while limited in scope, this is a great first step for musicians, and the panel was an attempt to let "people know it isn't as impossible as it seems to have a civilized health care system in this country." Simon Abou-Fadel of the Actors' Fund, a nonprofit that works for the social benefit of entertainment professionals, explained that he works to solve problems through a huge network of services that are available and that many are not familiar with, which sounded like an excellent potential resource as well.