Fans at SXSW got one of many treats this Monday when members of the Arcade Fire gave a lecture about their commitment to charity work. Bandmates Regine Chassagne, Win Butler, Will Butler and Marika Anthony-Shaw told the crowd of University of Texas students about their relationship with Partners in Health, an organization that provides basic health care to hundreds of thousands of impoverished Haitians. Chassagne, whose family fled Haiti in the 1960’s, said the country was an obvious place for the band to direct its philanthropic efforts because it is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and a place where she has roots.
In the last four years, Arcade Fire has donated over $500,000 to Partners in Health, mostly through 1-dollar donations included in the price of tickets to their live shows. Partners in Health then puts that money into community run primary care clinics across Haiti, which are free for anyone who cannot afford them. “In the States and Canada, there’s a basic attitude that you should be able to do things yourself,” said Butler, “You take for granted all the infrastructure we have. When you see a place that has no government or money for basic necessities, you know people shouldn’t die from not being able to get a tetanus shot in 2012.”
The Arcade Fire’s Marika Anthony-Shaw spoke about the bands charity work earlier in the week as well. The talented violinist joined HeadCount Executive Director Andy Bernstein last Thursday on a SXSW panel called “Doing Good, Only Better,” which focused on collaborations between artists and philanthropic causes. Hopefully the work of bands like the Arcade Fire will inspire more artists to use their fame as a means of promoting positive social change.
Here is a video of the Arcade Fire performing a few of their tunes after the lecture on Monday night: