I actually made Laura Colby’s (agent mention in article) acquaintance a year ago and emailed her with praise for her efforts. She told me there are similar efforts being made all over the country and I should keep my eye open for them.
Along with a listing of insurance companies, the website has links to pages dealing with industry hazards like tinnitus, performance anxiety and hand care of musicians. One of the most amusingly titled links is The Accordian: A Back Breaker. The webpage includes a 7 part series of articles on the best way to enjoy playing and how to choose the instrument that is right for you.
Much to my surprise, there was also a link to a Performing Arts Medicine program at Ithaca College. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. There are sports medicine programs, why not performing arts medicine? I mean, except for the fact that athletic programs in schools and professional sports organizations have more money to toss around than their arts counterparts.
Taking up Laura’s challenge, I also did a Google Search for non-union entities that offer help with artist health care.
The Artists Foundation in Boston directs people to some insurance sources. They also make people aware of the hazardous materials they may be coming in contact with depending on the type of art they are pursuing.
Out in LA, the Center for Cultural Innovation offers medical and dental coverage for $19.95 a year. I saw some implication that it is an introductory rate. Still, pretty dang good unless it just covers bandaids and dental floss.
The Actor’s Fund provides healthcare and support for all entertainment industry professionals. (I actually didn’t know they were a separate entity from Actors’ Equity until today.) They even have their own nursing home.
Fractured Atlas seems to offer the largest listing of resources as it contains a database of health insurance providers for their members listed by state.
It is no surprise health coverage is a big issue for artists–heck it is a big issue for most people. Hopefully as time progresses, similar programs will emerge as more and more people realize this is an issue that needs attention.
Programs like the one in Brooklyn is actually win-win. In exchange for the low rates, some artists promise to perform in the various wards. For some people, there may not be any more potent an encounter with the arts than when they are feeling their most weak and vulnerable.