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In honor of World AIDS Day 2012

December 1, 2012 Comments off

In honor of World AIDS Day 2012, The Actors Fund salutes people around the world living with HIV/AIDS. We cherish and celebrate those that we have lost to the epidemic.

We also pay tribute to the work of our HIV/AIDS Initiative teams in Los Angeles and New York for all they do every day to serve those living with HIV/AIDS in the entertainment community from coast to coast.

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In our Los Angeles Office, l-r: Western Region Director Keith McNutt, M.P.P., L.C.S.W.; HIV/AIDS Initiative Supervisor Jan-Kees Van Der Gaag, L.C.S.W.; Ze’ev Korn, L.C.S.W.; Joey Shanley, M.S.W.; and Intern Julie Doran.

In our New York Office, l-r: Thomas Lorio, L.M.S.W.; Marjorie Roop, L.C.S.W.; and Supervisor of The Fund's HIV/AIDS Initiative Kenton Curtis L.C.S.W..

In our New York Office, l-r: Thomas Lorio, L.M.S.W.; Marjorie Roop, L.C.S.W.; and Supervisor of The Fund’s HIV/AIDS Initiative Kenton Curtis L.C.S.W. Not pictured: Elizabeth Avedon, L.C.S.W. and A. Barrett Gray, L.C.S.W..

We also have a very special place in our hearts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, whose enthusiasm for and commitment to our work helps us help everyone in entertainment.

The Actors Fund HIV/AIDS Initiative works with men and women in the entertainment industry to create confidential, holistic plans and support systems that will meet each person’s emotional, medical and financial needs over the long term. Please contact us if you or someone you know is in need of assistance. Visit www.actorsfund.org.

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The Art of Caring, By David Henry Hwang

November 21, 2012 Comments off

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.)

David Henry Hwang

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.

Michael Feinstein visits with a resident at The Fund’s Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Credit: Jay Brady Photography.

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.

Medical Director Dr. Jim Spears visits with a patient at The Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in NYC.

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.

A resident outside The Fund’s Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence in Manhattan, our 30-story high-rise that offers affordable, supportive housing for low income working professionals, seniors and people living with HIV/AIDS.

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!

Trick or Trade! Bloomberg & Jerry Stiller Raise Money For People in Need

November 15, 2012 Comments off

Jerry Stiller chats up a Bloomberg Tradebook client while he raises money for The Actors Fund.

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!

Mariska Hargitay and Jerry Stiller.

“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!

Jerry Stiller working the phones at Bloomberg LP in support of The Actors Fund!

Jerry Stiller working the phones at Bloomberg LP in support of The Actors Fund!

Jerry hams it up with The Fund’s Jean Lee, Manager of Corporate Relations, and Erana Stennett, Bloomberg LP Corporate Giving Officer.

Jerry with The Fund’s Jean Lee and Joy Pascua Kim, Manager of Online Marketing.

Stokes In Concert – To Support The Fund & Lincoln Center!

October 18, 2012 Comments off

Stokes during his 2007 Carnegie Hall benefit for The Fund. Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett.

On October 31, Brian Stokes Mitchell (our fabulously talented, Tony Award-winning Chairman of the Board) takes the Alice Tully Hall stage for a gala evening to benefit The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center. Stokes will host this very special evening, which features cocktails and dinner, as well as his performance of songs from his brand-new album of classics, Simply Broadway, which will have just hit the shelves the day before (it’s currently available for preorder on iTunes and CDBaby). Check out the video below, in which Stokes shares a little more about the recording.

This performance kicks off Stokes’ five-city charitable concert tour, for which he has selected five non-profit venues across the country where he’ll perform in concert, and at least 50% of the proceeds will be shared between The Actors Fund and each theatre. Each show is designed to promote cooperation and giving, and emphasizes the importance of the arts in the lives of people everywhere. Stokes intends for this series to encourage people in all occupations and professions to partner in this manner to help sustain the national philanthropic spirit.

A longtime champion of promoting a better community through the arts, Stokes received  the 2012 Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts on October 15. Congrats, Stokes!

Tickets for the October 31 Lincoln Center are $250 for the cocktail hour plus performance, and $125 for the performance only (just use code AF50). For tickets and more information, please visit the Alice Tully Hall Box Office at Broadway at 65th Street, call CenterCharge at 212.721.6500 or visit lincolncenter.orgDates and locations for the remainder of Stokes’ benefit tour will be announced shortly! To stay up-to-date on all things Stokes, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook!

Actors Fund Advocates: Our National Ambassadors

August 9, 2012 Comments off

Actors Fund Trustee Phyllis Newman and National Ambassadors Honorary Chair Angela Lansbury.

There are many friends and fans of The Actors Fund who work tirelessly to spread the word about who we are and what we do. Among the many committees is the incredibly dedicated roster that makes up the National Ambassadors, comprising individuals who want to serve as advocates for The Fund by broadening awareness in the corporate, philanthropic, arts and entertainment communities, speaking about our important work with friends, family, corporate and community colleagues, and organizing special events to generate additional financial support and to introduce prospective individual and corporate donors.

The most recent of these gatherings was hosted by Actors Fund Trustee Phyllis Newman on Monday, July 23rd. Special Guest Angela Lansbury, the National Ambassadors’ Honorary Chair, and Phyllis spoke beautifully about The Fund and why it is vital to support its much needed programs.

NYPL for the Performing Arts Executive Director Jacqueline Davis, Actors Fund Trustee Tom Schumacher and Bob Callely.

We thank Phyllis for hosting, Angela for speaking to our members, and the bakery/café Pie Face (an Australian favorite that has recently opened its first outlet in NYC) for donating the food.

The National Ambassadors is Co-Chaired by Peter Gallagher and Suzyn Waldman, and welcome individuals who are interested in serving as advocates for The Actors Fund by  such as Monday’s,  For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Barbara Toy, Director of Individual Giving at 212.221.7300 x108 or btoy@actorsfund.org.

All photos by Jamie Liles.

Angela Lansbury with In the Spotlight member Thomas Teeple and guest Maria Torresy.

Five Musical Questions For The Cast Of Grey’s Anatomy: Chandra Wilson

March 6, 2012 Comments off

On Sunday evening March 18th, at UCLA’s at Royce Hall, cast members from ABC’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy will gather to perform Grey’s Anatomy: The Songs Beneath the Show, a live musical celebration to benefit The Actors Fund. The show will include selected songs from last season’s Musical Event, music from the Grey’s Anatomy songbook, examine the way music has always been an integral part of the storytelling on Grey’s, and will provide fans with a rare behind the scenes glimpse at how the show is put together.

In anticipation of the show, we asked cast members to answer a few musical questions, and here’s what Chandra Wilson (a.k.a. Miranda Bailey) had to say.

Actors Fund: Name your favorite Broadway or movie musical of all time. Chandra Wilson: Broadway: Man of LaMancha! I just love that story. And movie musical: The adaptation of Cinderella. It was done so well.

AF: Country or rock and roll? Why? CW: I’m an old musical theatre fan. In my fantasies, I’m a legit soprano.

AF: What’s on your iPod these days? CW: A little bit of everything!  But Broadway soundtracks:  Caroline, or Change, The Color Purple and In the Heights.

AF: Do you play a musical instrument? Which one(s)? CW: I act like I can play the piano. Right hand only.

AF: Can you tell us a song you’ll be singing on March 18? CW: I believe I’m singing on Chasing Cars, How to Save a Life, Wait and Everywhere I Go.

Click here to purchase tickets for March 18th’s Grey’s Anatomy: The Songs Beneath The Show. You will be redirected to ticketmaster.com’s website.

Free Tax Preparation: Our LA Office Launches VITA!

February 9, 2012 Comments off

The Actors Fund’s Los Angeles office has just kicked off the pilot season of its Entertainment Industry VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) program, which provides free income tax preparation to low and moderate income individuals and families. Our goal is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to file their taxes, claiming all legitimate deductions and appropriate credits–including the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is often overlooked–and receive their tax refund, if applicable.

VITA is hosted by The Actors Fund and supported in part by contributions from Actors’ Equity, AFTRA, SAG, the SAG Foundation and IATSE to assist their members; therefore, VITA is only open to industry professionals that hold union cards. The program will have only four days of operation in 2012, during which IRS Certified volunteers will help prepare returns, so the number of available appointments is very limited, and we recommend applying for a spot as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the VITA program, visit www.actorsfund.org/VITA, where you can access additional information, determine if you are eligible for the program and request an appointment. Candidates will receive a VITA worksheet packet which must be completed in order to see a tax preparer, and in-person appointments are mandatory. Walk-ins will be seen, but only if possible, and on a first-come first-served basis on each day of operation.

And dont’ forget, if you’re not in LA or can’t make a VITA appointment, The Actors Fund has numerous other Financial Wellness programs at your disposal, including three episodes of The Actors Fund Podcast Series!