Local businesses to host seventh annual Benefit Day for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians


Elizabeth Williams

On Tuesday, more than 250 musical acts will be taking the stage at venues all over Austin for the seventh annual Benefit Day for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. HAAM Benefit Day 2012 will bring local businesses and residents together in support of the professional musicians that have given this city its unique musical flavor.

Founded in 2005 by the late philanthropist Robin Shivers, HAAM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the working musicians of Austin with access to affordable health care. In addition to medical services, HAAM also provides access to low-cost dental, vision, mental and hearing health services. Now in its seventh year of existence, HAAM has more than 2,700 members, making up over a quarter of the city’s musicians.

“HAAM is a family,” said local musician Graham Wilkinson. “It’s a community within the music community, just caring for each other.” Wilkinson has been part of the Austin music scene since 2005 and has been a member of HAAM since 2007.

In a city made famous by its live music, many professional musicians are still struggling to make ends meet and often feel that they have to forego purchasing basic health care. “When I was looking for some kind of coverage for myself, I was having a hard time finding something that would provide for me,” said Kyle Artrip, singer for Austin punk band Creamers and a recently approved HAAM member. “I definitely don’t think it could exist anywhere else but Austin.”

“Austin’s 8,000-plus musicians bring more than $1.66 billion in economic activity annually to Austin, but the majority of them are among the ‘working poor,’ without health insurance or basic health care,” said HAAM executive director Carolyn Schwarz. 

This year’s Benefit Day boasts the participation of more than 240 local businesses that will be hosting musical performances throughout the day or donating 5 percent of Tuesday’s profits to HAAM. Music starts as early as 6 a.m. at Whole Foods Market on North Lamar Boulevard and ends in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Printed on Monday, October 1, 2012 as: Austinites support live performances