A Conversation with Matty Frank: The Arts & COVID-19

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to see the effects on the fine arts and performing arts industries in particular. By knowing the ways in which the industry has changed, you can adequately prepare yourself to head into the job market and continue to develop your skill set and gain experience – despite challenges presented by public health requirements. 

From a broad perspective, arts industries across the globe have been severely impacted by the coronavirus international health crisis. The estimated national loss for the arts and culture sector is $15.2 billion, with an estimated 488 million loss in attendance. Amidst widespread museum and performing venue closures, artists have had to find ways to not only showcase their crafts in a digital environment but continue to develop their skills and grow professionally. Social distancing and other public health guidelines have drastically limited the bandwidth and exposure to which artists can reach their audiences with live performances.

Additionally, artists have been uniquely impacted because, according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ analysis of American Community Survey data, artists are 3.6 times more likely to be self-employed. This can mean that artists are working part-time, in multiple roles, and heavily rely on what is called the gig economy. Working gig to gig, job to job, artists support themselves by finding one-off opportunities and forming connections this way.

Musician and recent UConn alum Mathew Fammartino, known by his stage name Matty Frank, spoke about his experience as an artist living in New York in the middle of the pandemic. He was working three jobs, as an employee at Starbucks and a podcast studio, and as an intern at a music studio. Noting the success of the podcast studio up until the pandemic began, he says “even the most successful businesses are struggling,” and he hopes to return as soon as possible. “The whole audio industry necessitates being around people, and it still hasn’t really recovered,” even for very popular business ventures.

This all being said, there are many ways that Matty has adapted to this virtual environment and encourages others in the industry to do the same. “I’ve been doing a lot of things at home, making my own music and exploring instrumental and soundtrack writing,” trying to venture into new realms of music to develop his musical skill set. One of the projects he recently worked on was a virtual concert festival hosted by himself and his roommate in their backyard. They recruited musician friends to come record and will be releasing the project shortly. The concert, airing this month, will raise money for the Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, a mutual aid fund based in Brooklyn. Living in Brooklyn, Matty says that he feels surrounded and supported by others experiencing the same sensation – the desire to collaborate with other artists so they can keep doing what they love. “My whole network of sound and audio professionals are based here in New York,” he notes. 

Another thing Matty mentions is how he has genuinely enjoyed the amount of time he has had to really focus on music because of the pandemic and extended time spent at home. “I have all this time now to work on things, you know these kinds of experiences are what drive people to do their own things.” Aside from practicing his instruments and songwriting, he has also been performing on Instagram live solo and with collaborators to continue to practice performing in front of audiences – so when these kinds of events come back in-person, it will feel like no time has passed. 

You can listen to Matty Frank on Spotify and follow him on Instagram @mattyfrankmusic. He is hosting a concert live on Twitch in the coming months, and will be releasing new music this summer. If you are an artist and are wondering how you can still have rewarding and valuable artistic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, feel free to connect with Matty and reach out with any questions!

By Clarice Pennock
Clarice Pennock Career Intern Clarice Pennock