The Columbus Music Co-op is a not for profit (non-profit) organization. Its function is to support local 614 musicians in need of help and to support the scene. The idea arose between local masterminds Erin Moore and Jess Faller after identifying the need for such an organization. After soliciting support from Columbus heavy hitters like Elizabeth Lessner the idea took off. A Board of Directors was assembled, grants were written and fundraisers were panned. Seven years later that one idea is alive and thriving as the go to group for musicians in the 614 music scene. In 2011 it was named the 2nd best non-profit in the city by Columbus Underground.
Erin Moore is now the Executive Director of the Columbus Music Co-op and Jess Faller acts as the President of the Board of Directors. Currently other Executive members include Ben Chenoweth -Vice President and Laddan Shoar -Secretary/Treasurer.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Moore for lunch a few days before Christmas at the Jury Room on Mound Street. (Great atmosphere, excellent food and service check it out) Between that cozy lunch, we sat by the fire and via email here is what you need to know about CMC and how it can serve you.
How did it all begin? What were the 1st meetings/ideals about and like?
Erin Moore “The CMC was born out of 2 friends wanting to do more for Columbus music. I have a nonprofit background and Jess Faller is a local musician. At the time, I was working in the private sector and really missed the nonprofit world. Apparently, I complained about it all the time because one late night out Jess was like “I’m sick of hearing you complain, start your own project.” And I said I would, but only if she’d do it with me. So we decided to brainstorm what was important to us (local music, supporting local artists) and what we knew how to do. I had a training background so we knew we could do free workshops. We also knew how to throw events so we started doing that to raise money for the local music community. It really just started as a project between 2 best friends and we are constantly amazed and honored with how it has grown and how supportive Columbus has been.”
“The first inspiration was literally, anything to support local music. We didn’t like the idea that the term “local band” often came with negative connotations like “amateur” or not as good as national acts when we knew that we had amazing talent in this city. We also did a lot of research about how music and strong arts communities can make cities more vibrant and we both love Columbus so that was a motivation too. Also, about a year into our project, Hurricane Katrina happened and we learned about how many New Orleans jazz musicians were suffering because they had no health insurance. We did research and learned that musicians tend to be less-insured than the general population so we started raising money for grants to send musicians to the doctor if they didn’t have insurance and that’s been our most successful program to date.”
What advice can you give for start-up non-profits?
“My big advice to start up nonprofits is to be very patient and to not over-commit.. We had (and continue to have) so many big ideas but you have to realize there are only so many hours in the day. Also, the United Way has a great training series that teaches you all about nonprofit start up and we went through that. And I’d say to network, collaborate with as many nonprofits as possible…maybe you can combine forces and share resources.”
“Our biggest fundraiser so far was our 5th Anniversary Here Comes Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout. It’s the first time we’ve ever reached capacity. We were so lucky to have such amazing bands donate their time that year (Gibson Bros, Scrawl, New Bomb Turks) and it really showed us how we had grown over the years. However, every Parking Lot Blowout has been amazing for me…to see people come out to experience a day of local music all for a good cause is very humbling and inspiring. The money from those events goes straight back into programming (since we are all volunteers right now) so when you’re at a Parking Lot Blowout you’re sending a musician to the doctor or helping give teenagers opportunities to play music in Columbus!”
Columbus Music Co-op is almost 7 years old. Where do you see CMC at their 10 year anniversary?
“CMC turns 7 in January! (I cannot believe it!) I hope that when we are celebrating 10 years we will have moved on to being a staffed nonprofit and that we offer more and more services (like our expanding youth committee and workshop series) and that we’ll have inspired more people in Columbus to go out and experience our amazing local music community.”
In addition to putting on the annual Parking Lot Blowout, supporting tons of cool local organizations (including the awesome Bustown music) the Co-op has put out two local compilation cd’s. Proceeds fromthe Compilation go directly to supporting the Columbus Musicians Assistance Program. CMAP delivers mini-grants to local musicians who lack health insurance and are in need of help. One of my good friends whose husband has been a lifelong Columbus musician was experiencing chronic health issues. Like so many Americans medical bills became overwhelming and that’s when the co-op stepped in. By providing them financial support the families day to day life is now much more stable. This year their youth committee hosted “The Kids are Alright” fundraiser/showcase at Vet’s memorial as well as supporting the Jazz Academy and hosting workshops at the classic Lincoln Theater.
Columbus Music Co-op is the definition of what the C.O is all about. By investing in local musicians CMC is supporting its people and helping to elevate the status of our musicians. Their events are innovative and entertaining so be on the look out. Hope this provides you with a little more information on what the CMC can do to support you. Cause if you don’t know…now ya know! (the notorious one)