The latest edition of Marquee, The Actors Fund newsletter, celebrates our Los Angeles office and showcases how we serve entertainment professionals in need on the West Coast. We invited Shonda Rhimes, the award winning creator, producer and writer of TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, to share her thoughts on The Fund for the issue, and she wrote this impassioned letter of support. It’s so beautiful we thought we’d share it on our blog as well. You can read the entire Marquee online here; or become a member, and you’ll receive every issue in your mailbox!
Please consider giving money to The Actors Fund.
The reason why is simple. The reason why is basic. The reason why is fundamental. You like movies. You like TV. You like theatre. You like concerts. You like dance. You like the arts. Maybe you’re like me – maybe you even love the arts, maybe you can’t imagine your life without the arts, can’t imagine how you’d have survived high school without the soundtrack of a certain Broadway show or the dialogue from a certain movie. Maybe at some point, exposure to the arts changed the course of your life in a profound way. Maybe you’re an artist now. Or maybe you just like to escape reality every once in a while and be entertained. Either way, you like the arts.
Here’s where The Actors Fund comes in. Ready? Okay.
The Actors Fund provides assistance to the artists that create the movies and theatre and tv shows and dance and concerts that you enjoy. Simply put, The Actors Fund supports the artists who make the stuff you like to watch. And by “support”, I mean SUPPORT. No. Wait. I mean SUPPORT. With underlines and italics.
If a dancer breaks her leg and can’t work, The Actors Fund pays her mortgage. If a grip gets cancer, The Actors Fund covers the gap left by his health insurance. If a costume designer needs a rehab program, The Actors Fund provides a place to go. If an out of work actor can’t afford shoes to wear to audition, The Actors Fund buys him shoes. If a writer has lost his benefits and finds out he has HIV, The Actors Fund gives him free medical care. If a studio musician finds himself homeless, The Actors Fund gives him a place to live. If a wonderful unsung character actor dies and there is no one to bury her, The Actors Fund pays for her funeral.
I want to take a moment to say that, when I found out about The Actors Fund and what the organization does, I got a little bit choked up. They give out shoes. They provide housing. They provide medical care. They provide funding. They pay for funerals. No wait. THEY PAY FOR FUNERALS.
In providing these services, The Actors Fund has decided that the importance of an artist’s contribution to show business is not determined by the level of his paycheck. It’s determined by his creativity. That the least famous among us deserve the same respect as the most famous. That every artist who commits to this business we all playfully call “show business” deserves the dignity and respect and support of like-minded people. So they give out shoes. And they provide a place to lay one’s head. And they pay for funerals.
To me, that’s the definition of a community. The Actors Fund is a community of people who support artists.
Which – simply, basically, fundamentally – is why you should consider giving money to The Actors Fund. Because if you support The Actors Fund, you support the arts. You support art. You support music and dance and writing and acting. You support creativity and imagination and the spinning of dreams into gold. And, most importantly, you support a community. You help move a community forward. You join the community. Join us.
As we gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving, The Actors Fund gives thanks for the countless people who comprise our Actors Fund Family: our Board of Trustees and committee members, all of whom are incredibly dedicated to our cause; our tireless volunteers; the unions, performers, and behind-the-scenes people who make our benefit events possible; our incredible staff, which is always there for those in need; the ongoing support we receive from the entire community and from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; and of course, our fans and clients — we’re always here for you! Finally, we are especially thankful for those who so generously donate to The Fund. You ensure we can fulfill our mission, especially in times of crisis. As the region begins to recover from Superstorm Sandy, wecontinue to hear from hundreds of people throughout the Tri-State area who need emergency help. As of today, we’ve received 497 requests for assistance, and distributed more than $124,000 so far for things like food, clothing, medicine and medical care, temporary shelter and relocation expenses. On this special day, we ask you all to give thanks with us, as together we continue the Art of Caring. (If you are in need of assistance post-Sandy, you can apply for our Emergency Financial Assistance here. You can also donate to our relief efforts here.)
On this Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share this beautiful message by Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (one of The Actors Fund‘s newest Trustees), which appeared in the program for Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Simply Broadway benefit for The Fund and Lincoln Center on November 7, 2012.
I was recently honored to become a Trustee of The Actors Fund, joining my good friend and fellow board member Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose artistry enriches tonight’s very special evening. Stokes embodies the spirit of our organization, with the size of his talent matched only by the generosity of his heart. For everyone involved with The Actors Fund works each day to practice the Art of Caring.
You see that same special spirit in Bebe Neuwirth, founder of The Fund’s Dancers’ Resource, which helps us embrace the dance community with much-needed services. Or Phyllis Newman, whose Women’s Health Initiative allows The Fund to serve women in health crisis. Every one of our staff members embraces this important mission, giving of themselves to provide the programs and services that keep our nation’s artists healthy and creative. Like the very generous Adrienne Arsht, our friends at Lincoln Center and each of you here tonight, we love the performing arts. But true love also inspires a sense of responsibility. Every work of art is born of risk, and artist’s lives are filled with disappointments as well as joys. That’s why it’s so important that you are giving back and supporting those in need; your presence here tonight inspires all of us.
Since 1882, workers in the performing arts have turned during hard times to The Actors Fund, where they have been served with respect and compassion. The Fund began by helping performers who found themselves stranded far from home, taking care of the sick, disabled and elderly, and providing dignified burials and funerals. Tonight’s event helps preserve this safe haven, and ensure that it continues to meet the needs of today.
How? Through emergency financial assistance in times of need and a wide range of social services. We assist in securing affordable health insurance and also offer free health care. We help our colleagues develop secondary and parallel careers outside the industry through employment and training services. Our youth services in Los Angeles help young performers create healthy and balanced lives. Our housing programs provide affordable and supportive places to live and work. And The Lillian Booth Home in New Jersey offers the highest quality skilled nursing care and assisted living to people who have dedicated their lives to the arts.
Today, we’ve transformed into a national human services organization that helps everyone – not just actors and performers, but also writers, and all those who work “behind the scenes” – in theatre, film, dance, music, TV, opera and radio. The Fund provides close to two dozen programs that help more than 12,800 entertainment and performing arts professionals per year.
Tonight, you too embody the spirit of compassion, and practice the Art of Caring, which has distinguished The Fund for over a century. You’re supporting not only The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center, but also helping to maintain a safety net for everyone who works in the performing arts. On behalf of our Chairman and our entire community, welcome, thank you, and enjoy the show!
As The Fund continues to help those in our community impacted by Superstorm Sandy, the business community and one of our nearest and dearest friends have stepped in to help.
Emmy-nominated actor/comedian Jerry Stiller showed up on Bloomberg LP Tradebook’s trading floor in New York City for the company’s Trick or Trade Charity Day on November 8th to help raise funds for those in need. Bloomberg employees welcomed Jerry with an ecstatic energy in costumes and high-spirits. Jerry joined co-celebrity ambassadors Tiki Barber (Fresh Air Fund), Daryl Dawkins (Ronald McDonald House New York) and Mariska Hargitay (The Joyful Heart Foundation), and they all fielded calls from Bloomberg clients, chatting, taking orders, and asking them to pick the charity that would receive their firm’s commissions. The Actors Fund (and the four other charities) each benefitted from this event, and helped Tradebook reach its highest market share to date this year!
“I told the guys I met at Bloomberg—if you think the business world is tough, try making a living in show business,” said Stiller. “It was great to speak with Bloomberg’s clients today, who really got into the spirit of giving back. And Tiki, Mariska and Daryl were all great advocates too,” he added. “But nothing makes me prouder than being able to give back to my fellow colleagues in entertainment in need. Bloomberg is doing the right thing by supporting our city’s charities.”
The Fund is incredibly grateful to Jerry, who, along with his wife and comedy partner Anne Meara, received our Medal of Honor in May 2012. We would also like to thank Blomberg Tradebook for its incredible generosity.
“We are proud to contribute to The Actors Fund,” said Ray Tierney, Bloomberg Tradebook. “The entertainment industry is a major cog in our city’s economic engine, so by supporting New York City’s arts and artists we are supporting the local economy as well.”
Within two weeks post-Sandy, The Fund has responded to more than 450 requests for help, and provided emergency financial assistance for immediate needs like housing or shelter, food, transportation and access to essential medications and medical care.
If you are in need of help, visit www.actorsfund.org to find local resources or to download an application for The Fund’s Superstorm Sandy Emergency Assistance Fund. Or consider a donation to The Fund to help those in need this holiday season!
In addition to calling us at The Actors Fund for help at 212.221.7300 ext. 119, here’s a list of additional resources available help everyone get through the aftermath of the hurricane. These are some of the things available to people in New Jersey (for a list of helpful New York City links, please click here):
• Latest listings of resources for New Jersey, including a county by county rundown: http://www.nj.com/
• Port Authority updates with status of all NY/NJ crossings – tunnels and bridges and public transportation (includes links to NYC and NJ regional transit and traffic conditions info sources): http://www.panynj.gov/alerts-advisories/inclement-weather.html
• Comcast is making free wifi hotspots available in states affected by Sandy: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57543181-94/comcast-offers-free-wi-fi-service-to-all-in-sandys-path/ (Remember, if there is no power in the area, the wifi hotspot won’t work either).
• Jersey City updates: http://www.cityofjerseycity.com/
• Hudson County (Jersey City and Hoboken) updates, including information on free battery distribution, beginning of local bus service, etc: http://www.nj.com/hudson/
• A collaborative Hoboken recovery map, based on Facebook and Twitter updates, on what’s out there for basic needs like places to eat, charging stations, pharmacies that are open, sources of drinking water: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=208892770746908904502.0004cd7046fe5975e8390&msa=0&ll=40.743355%2C-74.032402&spn=0.018696%2C0.038581
• Hudson County resources (from PSE & G website), incl. info on disaster mental health helpline, document replacement, rent abatement: http://www.pseg.com/home/customer_service/outage_info/resources.jsp
• Ice and water distribution in Hudson County: http://www.pseg.com/home/customer_service/outage_info/supplies.jsp
Recovery Volunteer opportunities in New Jersey: http://www.jerseycares.org
How to guides and advice for storm recovery
Helpful guide offering advice on where to start with clean-up, and how to deal with mold: http://www.studioprotector.org/OnlineGuide/Cleanup/SurveyingtheDamageMakingaPlan.aspx
• Do not touch any electrical lines, treat them as if they were live. Do not cut down or remove trees yourself; leave it to the professionals. Stay out of all City parks until they are safe.
• Throw away frozen foods lower than temp; a full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours; a half-full freezer for 24 hours. Perishable items left for more than 48 hours should be thrown out — that includes eggs, dairy products, leftovers and deli items, as well as uncooked poultry, meat and seafood . Ketchup, pickles, jellies, peanut butter are okay to keep. Don’t open the fridge often, as it raises the temperature.
• If your appliances have been in contact with water, contact a licensed plumbing or heating contractor to make sure the appliances are safe to operate. Don’t forget to check outdoor appliances, such as pool heaters and gas grills.
• Take as many photos of the damage done to your home and personal items, and list them. Insurance adjusters will want this ASAP.
Resources for damaged property for homeowners, renters, businesses:
• Homeowners, renters and businesses, should go to http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
•Federal Small Business Administration on disaster recovery assistance…. http://goo.gl/Oii6E
• Federal Emergency Management Administration: www.fema.gov or 1-800-621-3362 to register for disaster assistance.
•FEMA application process for disaster relief: http://goo.gl/Vvi9B
• For art-related losses, CERF+ offers grants & support: http://craftemergency.org
• National Grid: www1.nationalgridus.com, 718-643-4050
We’d like to take a moment to thank our fantastic – and always generous – Chariman, Brian Stokes Mitchell! Last night, he lit up Alice Tully Hall for a gala benefit for The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center, which was the first of his Give Service benefit concerts, a five city tour that will raise funds for The Fund and each of the theatres hosting the concerts. We thank Stokes for his amazing gift of music in this especially difficult time in the Tri-State area.
Last night, in light of recent events, Stokes decided to highlight the work The Fund is doing to help everyone in entertainment who’s been affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Actors Fund continues to work non-stop to make its services available to those whose lives have been torn apart because of this tragic event – as of today, we’ve received more than 400 calls for help. If you need assistance – or know someone in the business who does – tell them to contact us! We know it’s going to take months for things to recover.
In the midst of the snowy nor’easter, Stokes welcomed the audience with, “Good evening, you intrepid theatre-goers!,” and talked about how he was happy to be part of an event that couldn’t be stopped by the extreme weather, which was a special alliance two of his two favorite organizations. Stokes himself couldn’t be stopped, performing in socks because he had a “slight altercation with a chair” in his apartment, which broke his toe. “You should see the chair,” he said!
Marvin Laird was the musical director for the evening, which comprised a wonderfully rich setlist:
1/ Feeling Good, from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd
2/ The title song from Man of La Mancha
3/ C’est Moi, Camelot
4/ How to Handle a Woman, Camelot
5/ Stars, Les Miz
6/ If I Were a Rich Man, Fiddler on the Roof
7/ Soliloquy, Carousel
8/ Finishing the Hat, Sunday in the Park with George
9/ What Kind of Fool Am I, Stop The World – I Want To Get Off
10/ A Woman is a Sometime Thing, Porgy & Bess
11/ It Ain’t Necessarily So, Porgy & Bess
12/ Sorry, Grateful, Company
13/ Some Enchanted Evening, South Pacific
Encore #1/ Impossible Dream, Man of La Mancha (which he sang especially for Lincoln Center Trustee Adrienne Arsht, whose generous support of Lincoln Center helped to fund Alice Tully Hall’s brand new Adrienne Arsht Stage)
Encore #2/ Some Other Time, On the Town
And we’re so proud of Stokes, and incredibly grateful for everything he continues to do for The Fund and the entertainment and performing arts community. We’re also incredibly pleased that he’s getting great press, not only for this benefit project, but also for the Simply Broadway album itself! Check out the NY Daily News story on the project (view the pdf here), and one of the cuts from the record made USA Today‘s Playlist this week.
We especially thank the wonderful Lincoln Center staff, and the fabulous audience, which braved the height of the big nor’easter to come out and support The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center!
Brian Stokes Mitchell’s new Simply Broadway album is available now! You can download it from iTunes, order it from Amazon, or support The Fund by buying Collectors Edition benefit copies from The Actors Fund Store for $15, or copies autographed by Stokes for $25!
All photos by Jay Brady Photography.
As people throughout the Tri-State Region continue to suffer the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy, The Actors Fund remains the first stop for everyone in need of help throughout the entertainment and performing arts community. In order to help, here is an initial list of resources for people suffering from the after-effects of Sandy, whether it be lack of work, healthcare needs, storm damage, etc.
Please call us at The Actors Fund, and we can connect you with these and other organizations that can help you through this difficult time. We’ll be adding to this list as the crisis continues, and if you would like to suggest an organization you think we should add to it, please let us know!
For Emergency Financial Assistance:
The Actors Fund – Call:
• 212.221.7300 ext. 119
Working as crafts artist? The Craft Emergency Relief Fund assists Professional Crafts Artists in emergencies.
Artsready.org provides arts and cultural organizations with customized business continuity plans for post crisis sustainability.
Anyone affected by Sandy (homeowners, renters and businesses) can apply for federal disaster assistance by registering at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling FEMA at 800.621.3362.
State offices of emergency management list contact numbers, transit updates, and shelter resources:
• New Jersey Office of Emergency Management: www.state.nj.us/njoem/
• New York City Office of Emergency Management: www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/home/home.shtml
• Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection: www.ct.gov/demhs/cwp/view.asp?a=1939&q=443360
Charitable organizations/General Assistance:
• Greater New York Region Red Cross: www.nyredcross.org/?nd=get_help
• Hurricane and Flood Recovery Information: www.lsuagcenter.com/en/family_home/hazards_and_threats/recovery_assistance/
Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to find out more about our resources and to stay up-to-date regarding Actors Fund news, our workshops, groups and seminars, and other events to help our community.