The Actors Fund‘s Board of Trustees (above) and our Western Council (below) are a dedicated group of individuals deeply interested in the welfare of all professionals who work in the performing arts and in entertainment. Each member brings their own unique brand of expertise and experience to the table, and we value their insightful input and enthusiastic leadership. We thank each one of them for everything they do for The Fund — and our entire community!
At their recent meetings in New York and Los Angeles, they had a first chance to look at the statistical summary of how we helped the entertainment and performing arts community during 2012. We’re currently putting together our Annual Report — which will more fully highlight how The Fund served those in need, crisis or transition last year — but in the meantime, we salute all of our Boards and Committees who lead The Fund in helping our colleagues in the creative community in times of need.
Here are a few of the initial numbers from 2012:
• The Actors Fund helped 13,523 people in 2012, 5.6% more than in 2011.
• The lives of 5,024 people were stabilized during times of crisis, transition or health concerns.
• 1,812 people received $2,802,037 in emergency financial assistance.
• The Artists Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) counseled 2,781 people and conducted 119 seminars.
• The Al Hirschfeld Free Clinic provided 3,543 free medical visits to 1,485 uninsured individuals.
• In California, the Performing Arts Clinic at the Venice Family Clinic saw 83 patients.
• Supportive, affordable and special needs housing was provided to 433 people at The Dorothy Ross Friedman, Schermerhorn and Palm View residences.
• And at The Lillian Booth Actors Home, our skilled nursing and assisted living care facility in Englewood, New Jersey, 150 residents received the highest quality care.
• Of special note are the 630 people hurt by Superstorm Sandy. For and with them, we are coordinating care and applications related to recovery and have already provided almost $323,600 in emergency financial assistance to 270 people.
A special thank you to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for being our most dedicated supporter — in 2012 this amazing organization provided The Fund with $4,435,000 to support our programs and services, which included $200,000 in emergency funds for Superstorm Sandy relief last fall. Also providing much-needed support post-Sandy were SAG/AFTRA and The Motion Pictures Players Welfare Fund/MPPWF ($250K), IATSE Local One ($50K), The Schubert Organization ($50K), and Cirque du Soleil ($5K), as well as many individuals — without all of you, our work would have been much more difficult. THANK YOU!
It’s undeniable that Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is one of the most important works in twentieth-century American drama, and during Monday night’s special benefit reading for The Fund — celebrating the play’s 75th anniversary — any remaining doubt was vanquished. Directed by Peter Flynn, the incredible cast featured a trio of wonderful actors as the Stage Manager — Blythe Danner, BD Wong and S. Epatha Merkerson (each of whom took an act) — as well as breathtaking performances by Celia Keenan-Bolger (Emily Webb), Leslie Odom, Jr. (George Gibbs), Jerry Dixon (Dr. Gibbs), Adriane Lenox (Mrs. Gibbs), Rebecca Luker (Mrs. Webb) and Howard McGillin (Mr. Webb).
We’d like to thank the entire team, which took time out of their busy schedules to give such an emotional performance to the packed house, including the rest of the Grovers Corners residents: Jerry Dixon (Dr. Gibbs), Ade Otukoya (Joe Crowell/Si Crowell), Daniel Jenkins (Howie Newsome), Adriane Lenox (Mrs. Gibbs), Rebecca Luker (Mrs. Webb), Tyrah Skye Odoms (Rebecca Gibbs), Wolfgang Scheitinger (Wally Webb), Wally Dunn (Professor Willard), Howard McGillin (Mr. Webb), Martin Moran (Simon Stimson), Julia Murney (Mrs. Soames), Philip Hoffman (Constable Warren), Jose Llana (Sam Craig), Wally Dunn (Joe Stoddard) and townspeople Will Boyaijan, Brandon Contreras, Talya Groves, Chelsea D. Harrison, John-Michael Lyles, Melissa Mickens and Cailan Rose.
We’d also like to thank scenic designer Ken Goldsein, lighting designer Cory Pattak, sound designer Patrick Weaver, costume supervisor Jennifer Caprio, musical supervisor Mark Fifer, make-up artist Nathan Johnson, hairstylist James Corbett, casting consultant Stephanie Yankwitt, production stage manager Jason A. Quinn, and the rest of the incredible team! And a huge shout-out to the evening’s sponsors: PNC Bank, The New York Times, New York Marriott Marquis, and United Airlines. Without all of you, this incredible evening wouldn’t have been possible!
All photos by Jamie Liles.
The Actors Fund‘s Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ, is a very special community of unique individuals–people who have dedicated a major portion of their professional lives to performing arts and entertainment. In addition to numerous creative activities, the residents are regularly visited by people who take time out of their busy schedules to bring a little entertainment and friendship to those living at The Home, who — in turn — love to share their fascinating stories with their younger compatriots.
On Valentine’s Day, three cast members from Mamma Mia‘s Broadway Company (Thomasina Gross, Jacob Pinion, and Sydni Beaudoin) joined residents for a lively Question and Answer session. Gathered in The Home’s MusiCares Salon, the trio shared their experiences as current Broadway performers, and asked the older generation to share some of their wisdom. It was — indeed — a fun, informative afternoon! Thanks to Thomasina, Jacob and Sydni for making the Q&A an especially memorable one!
A few days later, on February 20, 11 dancers from New York City’s Broadway Dance Center traveled across the Hudson to visit The Home. The magnificent performers danced to a variety of jazz pieces, impressing the residents with their abilities and keeping them thoroughly entertained. We thank all of them for their time–and for sharing their talents with us!
For more on The Lillian Booth Actors Home, visit our website. And if you’re interested in performing or volunteering at The Home (there are numerous ways you can help!) visit The Fund’s Volunteer Opportunities page to learn more!
On Monday evening, composer Frank Wildhorn returned to the historic art deco lobby of Los Angeles’s Pantages Theatre for a very special edition of The Actors Fund’s Musical Mondays. Wildhorn actually got his theatrical start in that very lobby in 1988, when the Nederlanders heard him play there and decided to bring him to New York. He wrote Jekyll & Hyde and Scarlet Pimpernel, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Wildhorn led Monday night’s spectacular show, which featured performances of his work by Deborah Cox (Jekyll & Hyde, Aida), Janet Decal (Wonderland, In The Heights), Lisa Datz (The Full Monty, Hedwig and The Angry Inch), Carly Robyn Green (Recording Artist), Sam Harris (star of TV, theatre and recordings), Clint Holmes (Las Vegas headliner), Tracy Miller (Hairspray, Dracula) and Teal Wicks (Jekyll & Hyde, Wicked). They entertained the crowd with songs from some of Frank’s shows, including The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll & Hyde, Wonderland, The Civil War, Victor/Victoria and Bonnie & Clyde, as well as some of his pop hits, such as the chart-topping “Where do Broken Hearts Go,” made famous by the late, great Whitney Houston.
This was one of the first times Wildhorn has performed his own songs in Los Angeles, and we’re incredibly honored that he chose to do it as a benefit for The Fund! And a special thank you to Western Council Members John Bowab and Marty Wiviott for kicking off the evening! It was such a fabulous event, we thought we’d share a few images with you!
All photos by Scott Appel.
On March 4, an all-star cast will take part in a benefit reading of Our Town for The Actors Fund. Directed by Peter Flynn, the cast includes Tony Nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Glass Menagerie) as Emily Webb; Tony Nominee Rebecca Luker (The Secret Garden, The Music Man) as Mrs. Webb; and Tony Winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt, Chicago) as Mrs. Gibbs. Additionally, Tony winners Blythe Danner and BD Wong will share the role of the Stage Manager, and the evening will also feature Leslie Odom, Jr. as George Gibbs, Martin Moran as Simon Stimson, and Julia Murney as Mrs. Soames. And keep checking actorsfund.org for casting updates!
In a statement, Wilder’s nephew and literary executor, Tappan Wilder, said: “My uncle loved actors — he was an actor himself, you know — and he was mighty proud to have written a popular large-cast play that provided his fellows with so many jobs! What a great pleasure it is to partner with The Actors Fund, which Thornton Wilder supported throughout his life, on the occasion of a major milestone in the history of his most famous work”
Our Town will take place at 7:30 PM at the Gerald R. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College, and all proceeds from the reading benefit The Actors Fund‘s programs and services. Tickets are $75, $100, and $150. For information and to purchase tickets, visit actorsfund.org or call (212) 221-7300, ext. 133.
We’d like to take a moment to thank Palm Beach Dramaworks — as well as its leaders Managing Director Sue Ellen Beryl and Producing Artistic Director Bill Hayes (who are also Actors Fund National Ambassadors) — which recently launched a month of fundraising activities for The Actors Fund in conjunction with their production of Lorraine Hansberry’s acclaimed drama, A Raisin in the Sun.
Directed by Seret Scott, Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production features Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Shirine Babb, Mekiel Benjamin, Pat Bowie, Kyle Barrett, Marckenson Charles, Lanardo Davis, Ethan Henry, Dave Hyland, Mcley LaFrance, Jordan Tisdale and Joshua Valbrun.
The Fund’s link to A Raisin in the Sun is a strong one, as the show’s Broadway producer, Philip Rose, lived at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood (with his wife, Doris Belack Rose), as did Claudia McNeil, who starred as family matriarch Lena Younger in both the Broadway and film productions of the play — as well as a 1981 musical version.
For more on this very special partnership, check out this story from The Palm Beach Daily News. To purchase tickets to Palm Beach Dramaworks production of A Raisin in the Sun, which runs through March 3, 2013, visit the theatre’s website.
Last week, The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) launched its new e-newsletter, Housing Previews! We thought we’d share one of this issue’s stories here – a take on the results from our recent Rahway Artists Housing Survey by Carol Ann Herbert, Chair of the Planning Committe, New Jersey State Council on the Arts. (Click here to read the rest of Housing Previews, and you can subscribe here.)
Carol Ann Herbert is a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and chair of its planning committee. Ms. Herbert has also served on the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies from 2008 to 2011 and is currently a trustee for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance as well as a board member and vice-chair of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
As a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, I spend a lot of time working with colleagues, organizations, and citizens to advance Governor Christie’s goals to foster thriving artistic endeavors and contribute to the growing vitality of the creative economy in our state’s diverse communities. While originally intended to measure market demand for their affordable artist housing development in Rahway, NJ; the results of a survey conducted by the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation have important implications for these pursuits.
The mission of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts is to improve the quality of life in the state by helping the arts to flourish. In addition to inspiring, entertaining and connecting meaningfully with residents, artists and non-profit arts organizations move more than a billion dollars through the state’s economy every year. This is why one of the specific goals of the Council is to build a state economy whose community and economic development strategies, plans and resource allocations at all jurisdictional levels feature the arts and culture. When I learned about the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) and discovered that it was planning projects in New Jersey, I was encouraged. Here is a group that recognizes both the human and economic impact of the arts.
When I discovered that the AFHDC has been officially named the redeveloper of a site in Rahway, NJ and plans to develop a building called the Rahway Residence for the Arts, I was even more encouraged. Rahway, a small city 21 miles southeast of Manhattan and located on the New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor line, has been developing a vibrant arts scene as a revitalization strategy for the last decade. In 2007, the city completed a renovation of a historic 1,300-seat Vaudeville theatre located in the heart of downtown, which now houses the Union County Performing Arts Center. This September, a new purpose-built theatre, Hamilton Stage, opened a few blocks away and is providing opportunities for residents to experience the likes of American Repertory Ballet and Strangedog Theatre. With these two theatres, as well as galleries and city-sponsored arts programming, downtown Rahway seems a perfect fit for affordable artist housing.
In August, the AFHDC launched a survey of visual and performing artists, as well as others working in associated creative professions, to measure demand for the project they envisioned, which included 60 apartments and a cultural space that could be used both by residents to practice their art and the larger community. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts supported this survey and assisted in its promotion.
The survey remained open online for one month and over one hundred organizations assisted in publicizing it to applicable individuals. The full survey report, published this week, shows strong results. While the full report contains 60 pages of data and analysis, I will pull out a few of the most salient items here.
725 people out of 1,072 who took the survey (68%) expressed interest in relocating to the Rahway Residence for the Arts. Only four of these respondents currently lived in Rahway. As the project is currently conceived, it could bring as many as 126 new residents to the city, representing more foot traffic in the downtown; more dollars spent in local restaurants, shops, and convenience stores; and more homegrown creative capital. Just think of the numerous possible collaborations with the existing arts facilities in the immediate vicinity.
74% of interested respondents did not know about Rahway’s status as a growing center for the arts, but were excited enough by the project description as well as what they read about Rahway and other Actors Fund housing facilities that they felt the Rahway Residence for the Arts could be a home for them. This represents an opportunity for the City of Rahway, its businesses, landlords and non-profit arts organizations to capture new markets by continuing to raise awareness about their unique offerings.
Additionally, 82% of the interested respondents are currently engaged in work in New York City. Considering that the Rahway Residence for the Arts will be a three-block walk from Rahway’s New Jersey Transit train station and a 40-minute ride to Manhattan’s Penn Station, this piece of data indicates the power of transit-oriented development.
Overall, 68% of interested respondents were living outside of northern or central New Jersey, including the 32% living in Manhattan. This suggests potential for the region to attract residents from elsewhere by providing transit-accessible, affordable housing alternatives linked to exciting cultural activities.
From my perspective as a member of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the results of this survey suggest the possibility for cities and towns of our state to replicate this strategy and cultivate a strong creative economy. Proximity to Manhattan can be a benefit, but so can local assets such as historic theatres, committed leadership, and artistic, entrepreneurial residents. The Rahway Residence for the Arts is truly an exciting initiative and we at the Council will be enthusiastically supporting it through its next stages of development.
Editor’s Note: The full survey report can be found here. Along with our development partners, the Ingerman Group and Crawford Street Partners, AFHDC will be applying for low-income housing tax credits to raise equity for the project in the spring of 2013.
Learn more about the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, as well as all the free and confidential program and services of The Actors Fund. Learn more about the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.