Located in New York City at The Dorothy Ross Friedman Residences (formerly The Aurora), The Actors Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic provides free health care to uninsured and underinsured documented entertainment industry professionals between the ages of 18 to 64. Its clients, who come from all corners of the entertainment industry, are grateful to receive the amazing care given to them by Medical Director Dr. James Spears, the rest of the team at the Clinic, and the incredible roster of Broadway Docs, who volunteer their time to offer free services when needed.
The Clinic has positively impacted the lives of so many people, and we are moved when we hear from people like Kathleen Spock, who’s visit with Dr. Spears changed her life and has helped her stay healthy. Kathleen’s taken the time to share her story with us, to tell us why she believes the Clinic is such an incredibly important resource, and to encourage all of you to send the fabulous team at the Hirschfeld Clinic a thank-you note.
I call Dr. Spears “my angel in heaven.” He was there when I needed him most – and I can tell you with certainty, not a finer man walks this earth.
Now, I’d like to be there for Dr. Spears and his staff and thank them for the amazing work they do every day. And, I hope you will help.
A few weeks before I met Dr. Spears, I had so much trouble breathing I found myself in the ER overnight. I didn’t know what was wrong and I was terrified. Trust me – when you can’t breathe, your whole world stops.
But, the huge bill I ended up with was even scarier, not to mention a misdiagnosis of a “sore throat!” Not long after that, I had so much trouble breathing, I couldn’t even finish my shift at the theater. Finally, a stagehand took me to The Actors Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic during the show’s intermission.
Dr. Spears, the Clinic’s Medical Director, diagnosed me with severe asthma right away. Who knew? Well, Dr. Spears did! And to this day, the Clinic still helps provide medication critical to controlling my asthma.
Every year, The Actors Fund provides free care to more than 1,300 un- or under-insured people in the performing arts through the Clinic (and nearly 3,000 free visits for our community).
So, I humbly ask that you take a moment to sign a “thank you” note to Dr. Spears and his dedicated staff. They do so much for our community—we owe it to them to make sure they know how much they are appreciated!
Your appreciation of the hard-working team at the Clinic is a great way to keep the arts vibrant. By recognizing Dr. Spears’ efforts, all of us who are uninsured – actors, technicians, dancers, singers, set designers, ushers and all the rest – stay healthy, strong and able to work!
Thank you again for being part of The Actors Fund family. Your loyal support literally keeps the people in the performing arts and entertainment healthy!
Join The Actors Fund to help keep our community healthy! You’ll get access to the best seats in the house, receive our Marquee newsletter (which includes reports on how your donations help our community), plus the latest on our exciting events. In New York, call Judy Fish at 212.221.7300 ext. 127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In Los Angeles, call Meg Thomas at 323.933.9244 ext. 434 or email email@example.com.
Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff at The Actors Fund‘s Artist Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) continues to accomplish a stunning amount of work, research, and advocacy for the countless individuals hoping to demystify the mysteries of health insurance–especially when it comes to people working in the performing arts and entertainment. The latest issue of our twice-yearly newsletter Marquee highlights the work they’ve done (and shares the story of a few of the clients they helped) so we thought we’d share the brief introductions to each of our amazing staff members–as well as just a few of their accomplishments–on the blog. Feel free to check out the pdf of the entire issue here, and if you’d like to receive Marquee in the mail, become a member!
350,000 Web Visitors
AHIRC.org Web Content Developer
“AHIRC.org has about 350,000 visitors a year. I make sure our 5,000 links are current and accurate and the information is as streamlined and clear as possible. It’s challenging, but also rewarding knowing that even one link with the right information will help someone connect to affordable health care.”
L.M.S.W. Health Insurance Counselor
“We counsel more than 2,000 clients a year, in New York, LA and across the country. Many of our clients say they feel overwhelmed and confused about health insurance costs and coverage. It’s really satisfying to be able to reach out to them, listen to their needs, and help them navigate through the morass of information and choices.”
118 Health Care Seminars
AHIRC’s team of health insurance experts, through partnerships with local arts organizations, continues to reach out nationally to performing arts and entertainment professionals, as well as visual artists, with seminars and workshops that help to explain how health care reform offers new and affordable options for coverage. In 2011, we went on tour, conducting 118 seminars (85 in LA and NYC, and 33 nationwide.)
29 Stage Manager City Directories
This online resource provides touring companies with a list of doctors and health professionals in 29 cities, all recommended by theaters, stage managers, actors and others in the entertainment industry. Available at actorsfund.org/stagemanagers.
18 Health Care Guides
Our 18 brief city guides on getting affordable health care and health insurance outline public and private health insurance options in a practical Q & A format, and include contact information for selected clinics and pharmacies. All of them are available at www.ahirc.org/health_care_guides.
10 Dancer Health Care Seminars
DHIRC.org is our website devoted specifically to providing dancers with all the information they need to find the best and most affordable health insurance available to them. In 2011, we offered seminars in 10 major US dance centers. Visit DHIRC.org.
2 Virtual Health Care Seminars
M.S.W., Director of Health Services, Western Region
“We’re constantly looking for ways to reach more people and get them insured. In addition to in-person visits to cities across the west coast, last year we ran two virtual health insurance seminars—one for the State of Pennsylvania and another in collaboration with Artist Trust in Seattle. We reached 77 people with health care reform and health insurance information, all via online connection. We had a great response, and we’re still following-up with attendees via phone and email counseling.”
2 Health Care Policy Testimonies
L.M.S.W., Director of Health Services, Eastern Region
“Last year I testified at The Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, DC, and this January the New York City Council heard our testimony on increasing artists’ access to health insurance. We also gave a health care seminar again this year at one of the largest music and film festivals in the country, South by Southwest in Austin, TX. So our national presence in really growing.” Read Renata’s NYC Council testimony here.
100% Coverage by 2014!
National Director of Health Services
“We want visual and performing artists and entertainment professionals to have the same access to quality, affordable health care as teachers, business people and politicians. Our goal is to have 100% of them with comprehensive health insurance by 2014.”
The Actors Fund marked its annual Edwin Forrest Day celebrations with two special readings of Shakespeare: The first took place on April 29 on the grounds of The Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ (we’ve pasted our highlight video below), and the second, on May 2, at Off Vine in Los Angeles.
The history of The Actors Fund is entwined with the name of this great actor, who historians consider the first great star of the American theatre.
Born in Philadelphia in 1806, Edwin Forrest quickly became the most popular actor in nineteenth-century America. Particularly admired for his interpretations of Shakespeare, he was the first American to be acclaimed internationally as well. (His star shined so brightly, in fact, that he was one of the two actors whose Shakespearian rivalry spurred New York City’s infamous Astor Place Riot in 1849.)
The most important part of Edwin Forrest’s legacy, though, was what he did to help change society’s perception of actors, which at the time was not generally positive. A major supporter of both The General Theatrical Fund and the American Dramatic Fund Association (two predecessors of The Actors Fund), his true desire was to establish a retirement home for the elderly members of the profession he so loved. Four years after his death in 1872, The Edwin Forrest Home opened in Philadelphia, funded by the bulk of Forrest’s enormous estate, which he left for this purpose. It remained open until the 1980s, when its Board of Managers decided to close the home, sell the property, and contribute its sizable assets to The Actors Fund for the merger of The Edwin Forrest Home with The Fund’s Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Today, The Lillian Booth’s main section is known as the Edwin Forrest Wing.
The name of this great actor and humanitarian also lives on in The Actors Fund’s Edwin Forrest Society, membership in which is granted to those who have included a gift to The Fund in their estate plan. For more information on the Edwin Forrest Society, please call Wallace Munro, Director of Planned Giving, at 212.221.7300 ext. 128, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles Edwin Forrest Day photos by Daniel G. Lam. Edwin Forrest daguerreotype by Mathew Brady.