Verbier gives cash to 150 musicians, now seeks more

Verbier gives cash to 150 musicians, now seeks more


norman lebrecht

April 19, 2020

We’ve been asked by the Verbier Festival to help find any of its freelance associates who are in financial difficulty. The festival’s emergency fund has already supported 150 needy artists. It still has cash left over for more who qualify.

Here’s the news release:

 The current global health crisis is having a severe impact on the world of arts and culture.
Performances and productions have been cancelled for months, causing many artists and
creative workers to lose economic and social stability. Spearheaded by Verbier Festival Founder
& Director Martin T:son Engstroem, a new fund has been created by a group of generous arts
patrons who have expressed concern for the well-being of Verbier Festival Academy alumni—
those musicians who have been part of the Festival’s orchestra, soloist, chamber music, voice
and conducting programmes—and who are in desperate need of financial help. These donors
also recognise the hardship facing those who work behind the scenes on the Festival’s
production and technical teams. The Verbier Festival Emergency Relief Fund cannot hope to
replace entire fees or lost work for everyone, but it aims to make a small difference to help those
Verbier Festival family members who are most at need. Assistance from CHF 1,000 to CHF
5,000 will be granted without expectation of repayment. The Verbier Festival has been tasked
with the identifying those artists who most merit support.

Applications are open to all freelance, self-employed and newly unemployed Verbier Festival
Academy alumni musicians—solo, chamber and orchestral instrumentalists, singers,
conductors—and Festival alumni production and technical personnel, regardless of age and
In order to qualify for support, candidates must also satisfy the following requirements:
• Experience a sudden decrease of income as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic
(including contract cancellations or loss of work due to social distancing measures);
• Must not be eligible for, or currently on unemployment, social security or other assistance.

Applications will be accepted through the Verbier Festival website at



  • David Rowe says:

    Wonderful gesture. But I suggest a more holistic approach to get as many presenting organizations and performers through the pandemic shutdown as possible. Perhaps an unprecedented cooperation where artists/agents agree to accept a fee reduction of xx % for any performance which takes place during 20/21, in exchange for a minimally guaranteed yy % payment for each event which is cancelled? If implemented now, it could encourage audience buy-in and hopefully limit the expectation of refunds in the knowledge their contribution is aiding the survival of the organizations and artists they treasure. Just one idea – I think we need to see some bold, swift action if the performing arts eco-system is to avoid mass Covid-19 casualties.