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Posts Tagged ‘NEA’

Los Angeles Affordable Housing Update!

June 13, 2012 Comments off

A shot from the ArtPlace grant announcement: Keith McNutt, Actors Fund; Olga Garay-English, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; Jessica Wethington-McLean, Bringing Back Broadway and Council Member José Huizar, Scott Weiner, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation; Teri Deaver, Artspace; Tim Halbur, Artplace; Travis Preston, California Institute of the Arts; and Aileen Adams, Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The last few weeks have been incredibly exciting for the Broadway Arts Center project in downtown Los Angeles, for which The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) has been playing a critical role. On June 5, AFHDC announced the formalization of a new partnership with the Minneapolis-based Artspace as part of the project, which hopes to create a mixed-use development comprising a black box theater, art gallery, creative commercial space and affordable housing for artists. And to further underscore the project’s viability, ArtPlace (a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, dedicated to transforming communities with strategic investments in the arts) announced on June 12 that the Broadway Arts Center will receive $470,000 – the largest national grant to be awarded.

Artspace and AFHDC have been working together for the last year and a half as part of the group of organizations studying the viability of the Broadway Arts Center, including the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural AffairsCalifornia Institute of the Arts, Bringing Back Broadway and Pritzker prize winning architect Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects. In addition to public input meetings and focus groups, the organizations oversaw comprehensive arts market surveys and an affordable housing/commercial market study, a summary and initial results of which are available at http://creativespacela.org/. Funded through a grant from the NEA Mayor’s Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative, they found tremendous need for affordable space for artists, arts organizations and creative businesses in Downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to the exciting new ArtSpace/AFHDC partnership, the ArtPlace grant will bring the dream of the Broadway Arts Center closer to reality, and it was one of only four projects selected in downtown LA (the others were SCI-Arc, Cornerstone Theater, and Esperanza Housing Corp.). The next steps in the process of creating the Broadway Arts Center include site selection and evaluation, and while a timeline for completion of the project has not yet been finalized, Artspace (which has developed 30 properties around the country) believes projects of this nature can take anywhere from three to six years.
Visit our website for more on AFHDC, to find out how The Fund can help you find affordable housing, and for more on The Fund’s existing affordable housing projects, including New York’s The Schermerhorn and Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence, and Los Angeles’s Palm View.
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AHIRC’s Renata Marinaro Speaks To New York’s City Council

February 2, 2012 Comments off

Renata Marinaro

Renata Marinaro

On January 23, The Actors Fund‘s Renata Marinaro, Director of Health Services/Eastern Region for The Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC), testified to the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs on increasing health insurance access for artists in the city. The Committee is considering various ways to increase access to health care and insurance, including expanding bartering programs such as Artists Access and targeting information and resources at the creative community. Council members present included James Van Bramer and Dominic Recchia, who were joined by Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin. The Commissioner and the Chair of the Committee recognized The Actors Fund’s central role in educating artists on health care options and providing free care through the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

Renata’s testimony was so enlightening and included so many important points, we thought we’d make the transcript available to everyone:

My name is Renata Marinaro. I’m the Director of Health Services, Eastern Region, for The Actors Fund.

The Fund’s Hirschfeld Clinic offers free health care for the uninsured in performing arts and entertainment. Photo by Karissa Krenz.

THE ACTORS FUND is a national human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. THE FUND IS A SAFETY NET, PROVIDING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED, CRISIS OR TRANSITION. Founded in 1882, The Fund serves those in film, theater, television, music, opera, and dance, and assists both performers and those behind the scenes with a broad spectrum of programs designed to address the needs of the community, including comprehensive social services, health services, supportive and affordable housing, employment and training services, and skilled nursing and assisted living care. The Fund also makes emergency grants for essential needs.

In 1998, The Actors Fund received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a resource center for uninsured people in the visual and performing arts.  This was in response to the high number of uninsured and underinsured artists — estimated in 2009 by Leveraging Investments in Creativity to be 36%, higher than the general population estimate of 25%. The Fund created an online state-by-state database, accessible for free at www.ahirc.org, that links to up-to-date information about getting and keeping health insurance and finding quality, affordable health care for those who cannot afford health insurance or do not have access to it because of a pre-existing condition.  The website received about 348,500 individual visits in 2011.

In addition, counselors at the resource center advise entertainment industry professionals in person and by phone regarding their options for getting health insurance. Clients are educated on a variety of options, including private insurance — unaffordable to most artists since premiums for basic HMOs currently range between $920 (the cheapest) to $2765 per month —  to association plans for the self-employed, like The Freelancers Union or TEIGIT, where the cost is still high but less than half of the private plans, to income-based government-subsidized programs, like Medicaid, Family Health Plus, and Healthy NY.

Hirschfeld Clinic

The waiting room at The Fund’s Hirschfeld Clinic in midtown Manhattan. Photo by Karissa Krenz.

We counsel over 3000 artists each year, many of whom cannot afford any of these options, and, among the performers, do not get enough union work to qualify for benefits with SAG, AFTRA, Equity or the Musician’s Union Local 802. While some will not need medical care during the year, others will be among those who avoid or delay needed care, or who get care and are charged exorbitant non-negotiated rates, then face medical bills of thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars that, despite the financial assistance we can offer, cause them to go into ruinous debt.

New York City is fortunate to have excellent community clinics such as the Ryan Centers and Callen-Lorde that charge on a sliding scale and are a medical home for many artists.  The Actors Fund operates the only full-time free clinic in the city, the Al Hirschfeld on 57th St and Tenth Avenue.  Last year the clinic saw almost 1400 uninsured patients for almost 3,000 visits.  In addition, the city’s Health and Hospital’s Corporation’s HHC Options program provides hospital care to the uninsured based on their income.  But these are not a substitute for health insurance.

Since The Actors Fund last testified in 2009 the health insurance landscape has changed, losing some features and gaining others. The arts service organization Fractured Atlas no longer offers health insurance. The Freelancers Union coverage has gotten more expensive with higher deductibles and co-pays, and Healthy NY, a program heavily utilized by our community, now offers only high-deductible plans, making it a less attractive option for many who need regular care. The ARRA subsidy allowed many of our clients to continue their coverage at affordable rates; however, it expired in 2011.  Fortunately, the New York State Entertainment Industry COBRA subsidy, which began in January 2005, has survived and continues to help industry professionals bridge periods of low employment.

These losses, however, have been compensated for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It has brought welcome and necessary changes to the system: younger artists can now be insured under their parents’ coverage up to age 26, a benefit that has been heavily utilized. The NY Bridge Plan has been a lifeline to many formerly uninsured artists who, without it, would be forced to pay more than double the cost of the Bridge Plan premium for insurance that would not cover their pre-existing conditions for at least a year. And for the senior performers, the 50% discount on brand name drugs in the doughnut hole has made a big difference.

Dr. Jim Spears speaks with Sarah Ittner, a New York-based actor, at the Actors Fund's Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America.

And what is coming in 2014 will have an even greater impact on our community.  The ability to purchase a comprehensive health insurance plan that meets an individual’s or a family’s health care needs on a competitive Exchange, the system of subsidies to make it affordable to low and middle income people, and the mandate to purchase insurance has the potential of finally achieving our mission of EVERY ARTIST INSURED.

New York has more health insurance resources for performing artists than most other states, yet the number of uninsured in the performing arts remains high. Episodic work and low and/or infrequent pay make it difficult for performing artists to maintain health insurance and find affordable health care.  To repeat: the most positive change to the health care landscape for the entertainment and arts community has come from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many of whose provisions are directed at the individual and small group market, where the majority of artists find themselves.

The Actors Fund’s Artists Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) has been connecting artists, craftspeople and entertainment industry workers around the country to health insurance and affordable health care since 1998. For more information, visit www.actorsfund.org or www.ahirc.org.

Hey Los Angeles — Help Us Out By Taking The Broadway Arts Center Survey

September 1, 2011 Comments off

Interested in assisting the cultural development of downtown L.A.? The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC), together with its partners including the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Artspace, has launched a National Endowment for the Arts–funded survey to assess the housing needs of the Los Angeles entertainment, performing and visual arts communities.

To make it a success, we’re encouraging members of the creative community — artists of all disciplines, individuals associated with the arts, entertainment and creative industries, arts and cultural organizations and creative commercial businesses — to complete the survey before October 10, 2011.

This project will help further the development of downtown Los Angeles’s Broadway Arts Center (BAC), a facility still in the planning stages, which will provide affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facilities, and creative business space, and serve to help in the revitalization of the Historic Broadway Theater District. The results will help the partners secure further support and funding for the project, as well as influence the BAC’s location, size, number, and type of creative spaces/facilities, design features, amenities, programs and affordability.

We want to be sure the new facility meets everyone’s needs throughout the community, so the more of you who participate, the better! There are two separate surveys, one for individuals and another for organizations, so please take a few minutes to complete one of them (or both, if you’re eligible), and then help spread the word to your colleagues.

Please visit http://www.creativespacela.org/ to take the survey, and thank you for your participation.

The project team consists of a public/private partnership including The Actors Fund, The Los Angeles DCA, Bringing Back Broadway, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA-LA), the City Planning Department Urban Design Studio, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and Artspace. If you’d like BAC project updates, “like” Creative Space L.A. on Facebook.

The AFHDC works to develop affordable, supportive and senior housing for the performing arts community that improves lives, creates jobs, fosters economic development and revitalizes communities. For more information visit The Actors Fund’s website, or contact the AFHDC’s President and CEO, Scott Weiner at 212.221.7300 ext. 106 or sweiner@actorsfund.org.