Yes, there is hope for theater in the new year. And, yes, of course the performing arts have rebounded many times in human history from plagues, war, and other calamities. But right now, this winter and coming spring, an entire community of actors, musicians, dancers, writers, producers, stagehands, costume designers—the list goes on—has been clobbered, and they desperately need our help to weather what is hopefully the final stretch, and to be ready to step back onto stages, raise curtains, take bows. The organizations listed below offer assistance to those in need and opportunity for those who want to help.
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Theater Development Fund
For more than a half century, the Theater Development Fund (TDF) has played a vital role in supporting and expanding the reach of the theatrical arts, including by providing affordable access to performances to millions of people annually through two programs: TKTS ticket booths and TDF membership. The non-profit’s revenue has plummeted during pandemic-related temporary closings, and it has launched a number of fundraisers to sustain operations until theaters reopen and it can resume its vital work.
Be an #ArtsHero
For those who want to donate their time instead of money, Be an #ArtsHero is a grassroots organization of volunteers that lobbies the U.S. Senate to allocate proportionate pandemic relief to the arts & culture sector. It offers specific suggestions for how individuals can reach out to their own government representatives and how to enlist others to do the same.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS raises funds and makes grants to support people with HIV/AIDS, offering everything from meals to medical assistance, emergency financial aid, and much more. Over the years it has produced numerous fundraising specials, including its annual Broadway Bares. Earlier this month, Tina Fey hosted One Night Only on NBC, which raised more than $3.25 million for the cause. In March, it launched an ongoing COVID emergency fund, which has raised almost $8 million so far to help entertainment professionals make ends meet during the pandemic.
Broadway Advocacy Coalition
In 2016, a group of theater professionals founded the Broadway Advocacy Coalition to assist individuals and organizations in the fight against racism and police brutality. Since then, it has launched programs and fellowships that aim to unite “artists with legal experts and community leaders to have a lasting impact on policy issues including criminal justice reform, education equity, and immigration.” Donations can be made to its core programs or directly to its scholarship fund, which provides support and financial aid to Black, Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous theater students.
The Actors’s Fund
The Actors’s Fund was founded in 1882 in New York City at first to serve as a safety net for performers, but it quickly expanded to offer assistance to directors, stage hands, and others. Today it is a national organization that works with a broad group of partners to support professionals of all types in the performing arts and entertainment industry. During the pandemic, its Emergency Financial Program has provided a vital life line for individual working in a particularly hard-hit industry.
For those who are interested in supporting theater outside of Broadway and New York City, Theatre Forward has been providing funding and support to leading non-profit theaters located around the country since 1977. Since pandemic-related temporary closings went into effect earlier this year, the non-profit has hosted a virtual spotlight series. Next up is an event with Actors Theatre of Louisville on January 14.
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