The Art of Caring, By David Henry Hwang
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!