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The ALJA is a non-profit organization created in 2007 by pianist Arturo O'Farril with the collaboration of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). Photo: El Museo / YouTube
The ALJA is a nonprofit organization created in 2007 by pianist Arturo O'Farril in collaboration with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). Photo: El Museo / YouTube

The Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance meets crowdfunding goal to help musicians

In times of a global pandemic, there are arts alliances struggling to fulfill their duties and fight against unprecedented challenges without concerts.

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The goal of GoFundMe crowdfunding started in April, 2020 by the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) was to raise $100,000 to counteract the catastrophic economic effects of coronavirus pandemic and support artists by creating an emergency fund.

After almost eight months of fundraising, during the week of Dec. 22, ALJA announced they had exceeded their funding goals thanks to the help of more than 300 donors.

The effort was started in April, as ALJA, led by Grammy-winner Arturo O'Farril, set a goal to alleviate the effects of a year with practically no income for artists in New York and New Jersey, prioritizing the African-American and Latino communities.

Both provide a dense and rich panorama in the tri-state area that few efforts have considered supporting throughout the chaos that was 2020.

Gradually, artists have also adapted to the new virtual normal, now performing virtual shows on YouTube and Facebook, mutating the concert format and potentially completely changing music festivals.

The U.S. government shined in its absence of support for the cultural sector. And while other countries did support the arts more, the worldwide effort still reeked of a lack of concern for how the pandemic could affect humanity's vital cultural institutions.

Many of the professionals in the field, like those protected by the ALJA effort, also lived off of live events as the digital era has marred much of the earnings from record sales.  

But there are more reasons why Latino and African-American artists from New York and New Jersey stand out and needed support. The sense of community created within both groups is one that truly shapes a city's bedrock and defines it for the rest of the world.

Without financial support, that foundation erodes. Even with the support provided by ALJA, some of it will for the lack of action elsewhere.

The money raised, approximately $103,000, will be distributed to over 200 artists through paid, virtual concerts and the creation of new online music classes for youth organized in the New York Public School System and the ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn.

What the community gives, always goes to different parts of the same community. That's how the foundations are formed and maintained.

ALJA is a nonprofit organization created in 2007 by pianist Arturo O'Farril in collaboration with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). The group has performed throughout U.S. and are well known for their concerts at the Symphony Space in New York, as well as their international tours. The organization also provides institutional support and residency opportunities for artists all while trying to keep their music accessible to low-income audiences.

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