The Actors Fund has distributed a record-breaking $10.5 million over the past eight weeks to provide emergency financial assistance for performing arts and entertainment workers in need due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund reported today. The figure reflects more than five times the amount typically distributed by the Fund in an entire year.
Brian Stokes Mitchell, actor and Chairman of the Board of The Actors Fund, said, “Looking at a number – even one as large as 10 million – doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. In an instant, our friends and supporters, people like Rosie O’Donnell, Seth Rudetsky & James Wesley and others, began dreaming of entirely new fundraising models that would prove to be nothing short of lifesaving. In all my years working with The Fund, I’ve never been so moved, so inspired, or so grateful.”
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O’Donnell, Rudetsky and Wesley are among those in the Broadway community who have organized and hosted livestream entertainments to raise funds for the Fund’s COVID-19 efforts. O’Donnell’s March 22 one-night-only return of The Rosie O’Donnell Show raised more than $600,000, and the Rudetsky-Wesley Stars in the House online series has become popular must-sees for fans of both Broadway and classic TV show reunions.
Joseph Benincasa, President and CEO of The Actors Fund, cited the participation of industry unions and guilds as a key factor in the fundraising success, saying that the efforts of SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity, and IATSE, “as well as thousands of individual donors,” has been “nothing short of staggering.”
And while Benincasa noted “the unprecedented level of support we continue to receive,” the CEO said it’s too early to take “a victory lap.”
“In the coming months,” he said, “we anticipate helping our entertainment industry colleagues navigate issues such as union health insurance, the new COVID-economy, mental health support, addiction and recovery resources, affordable housing, securing government resources, and more. The level of need is overwhelming, and our work has only just begun.”
Since the start of the pandemic, The Actors Fund has transitioned to online and phone-based services – available for everyone in the performing arts and entertainment community – including the Artists Health Insurance Resource Center, The Career Center, Housing Resources, Addiction & Recovery, HIV/AIDS and Senior Services, Counseling and Emergency Financial Assistance, as well as The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
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