Arcade Fire members talk philanthropy efforts at MUSG event

Photo by Matthew Serafin /

Photo by Matthew Serafin /

Will Butler and Marika Anthony-Shaw of Arcade Fire discussed their humanitarian efforts both on and offstage Thursday night in Weasler auditorium as part of MUSG’s 2014-2015 Speaker Series.

In front of a small, intimate crowd, Butler and Anthony-Shaw shared stories of struggles facing global healthcare efforts over the past decade and their alliances with organizations to combat its lasting issues, including Partners in Health, a Boston-based medical care non-profit, and Plus One, a recent expansion of Arcade Fire’s homegrown charity project where bands donate one dollar of each ticket they sell to a selected cause.

The two aid programs, which frequently collaborate themselves and other organizations on the domestic and international levels, grew organically by fostering relationships with peers within their respective fields. For Partners in Health, this meant working closely with Haiti’s existing government and healthcare bodies. For Arcade Fire’s Plus One, it was word of mouth creating interest in other bands to help.

“We weren’t asking people to do anything,” said Butler on the early the movement. “Fans told us their stories…[Artists} making music got really excited.”

Familial ties to Haiti through Arcade fire member Régine Chassagne sparked the band’s initial charitable involvement with the country in 2005. When visiting in March 2011 to help rebuild after the 2010 earthquake, the band found Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, and started giving a dollar of every Arcade fire ticket to the organization. Soon Farmer’s organization set up booths at shows, fans and musicians alike took notice and the partnership was born.

“I want this intersection of music and social to be at every show, every sports team, forever,” Anthony-Shaw said.

Partners in Health’s success in treating HIV among impoverished Haitians lead to the organization other health issues, such as fighting multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis in Rwanda and Russia.

Now a trustee at Partners and Health as well as a band member in Arcade fire, Anthony-Shaw encouraged students to stick to their causes and tackle problems head on.

“We’ve only being able to make the largest teaching hospital in the Caribbean because we stuck with it,” Anthony-Shaw said. “Learn how to express what you care about… it will come with you and you will carry it in the path you go on”

After the presentation, Butler and Anthony-Shaw spoke with fans, handing out buttons and swapping stories about albums and tours.