It’s been nearly two weeks since Broadway went dark due to New York state’s social distancing measures amid the Coronavirus. As the Great White Way endures its longest shutdown in history, Broadway producers are coming together to pledge financial assistance to the Actors Fund and other emergency assistance programs.
The Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 emergency assistance fund launched March 17 with a starting fund of $250,000. Since then, they have collected $580,000, which includes $52,000 from “Hamilton” superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda who pledged during a special segment of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: At Home Edition.”
Now, more than 20 Broadway producers like Rebecca Gold Milikowsky (“Beetlejuice,” “Oklahoma!”) and Bill Damaschke (“Moulin Rouge! The Musical!” and “The Prom”) are following suit, with producer Spencer Ross (“Jagged Little Pill,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical!”) starting a $1 million challenge match by pledging $50,000 and recruiting others to pledge $50,000 to match it. Just days after initiation, 20 producers signed on to collectively pledge $1 million. The group is asking for contributions that would be matched dollar for dollar.
Because of the challenge’s success, the match goal has increased to $2 million by April 12.
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The emergency fund is geared towards helping those in the entertainment industry cope with their expenses caused by the shutdown. It will also give The Actors Fund, a national human rights organization that helps those in the performing arts with everything from housing to emergency financial assistance, resources to meet the growing demand for financial aid, health insurance, counseling and in-house expenses.
In the past 10 days, the Actors Fund has been sifting through applications from 5,000 people who need assistance. The fund has provided insurance assistance to a diabetic musician who lost his future gigs due to the virus. The fund has also provided temporary housing for a director as well as food and rental assistance for actors supporting their family.
(Pictured: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical!”)