Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided a record $18.1 million in grants to a pandemic-slammed industry during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, the most ever awarded in the organization’s 32-year history.
Cautioning that “any enthusiasm” about the record is “tempered with the recognition that continued fundraising is essential to ensure healthy meals, lifesaving medication and emergency assistance are still available as the country faces an uncertain future,” the organization noted that the $18.1 million in 2020 grants exceeds 2019 grant-making by 22 percent. Last year’s $14.8 million in grants had been the previous annual record.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone in the theater community – those onstage, backstage and in the audience – for sharing their generosity and talents to accomplish such a feat when half our fiscal year was consumed by a pandemic,” said Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Broadway Cares launched its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund with an initial $250,000 on March 17, five days after both the state and the city ordered the Broadway shutdown. The fund, administered by The Actors Fund, ensures thousands who work in theater and the performing arts receive support during and after the pandemic.
Later in March, more than 20 Broadway producers offered a $1 million challenge match to double the impact of fund donations. Another group of producers offered a second $1 million match. Bette Midler personally matched donations to the emergency fund up to $100,000.
Broadway Across America, part of the John Gore Organization, offered its ticket buyers the opportunity to donate back the value of their unused tickets to Broadway Cares, with the initiative contributing a $909,000 donation.
In total, the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund has provided $6.5 million to The Actors Fund so far. An additional $1 million was shared with The Actors Fund to launch the Every Artist Insured program, expanding on The Actors Fund’s free and confidential health insurance counseling and enrollment support services. The pandemic-specific grants were in addition to annual support of social services of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts.
In total, Broadway Cares awarded $11.2 million to The Actors Fund in fiscal year 2020, up from $6.2 million in 2019.
“But today, on October 1, our fundraising slate wipes clean and we begin again,” Viola said. “So while we celebrate the work made possible and the countless individuals helped, we also charge forward with our efforts to continue to raise these vital funds for the most vulnerable among us.”