Donor Support in Action | Actors Fund

Donor Support in Action

July 14, 2021 | Press Release

For 139 years, the entertainment community has turned to The Actors Fund in times of need. And with your generous support over the last 16 months, we’ve helped more people than ever—serving over 40,000 clients nationwide, and distributing more than $22 million in financial assistance grants to date.

I’d like to take a moment to update you on what our dedicated staff in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey—and in the virtual space—has been up to so far in 2021:

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Emergency financial assistance grants have long been an important service of The Actors Fund because they provide practical and emotional relief for people experiencing crisis. These grants help to pay rent, utilities, medical bills, health insurance premiums and other basic living expenses. In the first 6 months of 2021, we distributed nearly $3.5 million to over 3,533 industry professionals in need.

“Thank you so much Actors Fund! I feel so cared for and remembered and that means the world to me and my kids. I know this situation will change and the funds that you have provided for my family will help us through this rough spot.”

--Pamela, Actor

SOCIAL SERVICES

In addition to ongoing mental health, addiction recovery, HIV/AIDS, seniors and women’s health services, The Actors Fund’s social services team tailors its offerings to meet the emerging needs of our community:

  • In March, we offered the Combatting Anti-Asian Bias for Entertainment Professionals workshop. Featured guest speaker Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (AP3CON), shed light on the history and recent rise of racism against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) during the pandemic, and provided resources for reporting such incidents and strategies for managing stress during this time.
  • In May, social workers completed an eight-week online Support Group for Entertainment Professionals. The group created a space for participants to discuss handling uncertainty, dealing with loss and managing re-entry into the entertainment industry.
  • Also in May, we kicked off Parenting Through a Pandemic, a newly formed support group whose objective is to address the role of being a parent while simultaneously navigating a career in the entertainment industry during the pandemic.

HEALTH CARE & HEALTH INSURANCE RESOURCES

In April, the Broadway Vaccination Site opened for the live performance, film and television community in New York City. We partnered with the Mayor’s Office to coordinate COVID-19 vaccination appointments, and marketed the site to entertainment professionals and their families. We also teamed up with Ryan Health Center and Housing Works to make vaccinations available to residents and staff at our affordable housing buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Through our Every Artist Insured program, we continued to help people who face the loss of their health insurance navigate the complex insurance world. Last year, we served 4,866 participants nationally—a dramatic 45% increase over the previous year. So far in 2021, we’ve served 1,869 clients through one-on-one counseling, group seminars and insurance plan enrollment.

“I attended your workshop in March, shortly after my husband passed away. Many thanks for connecting me with [Health Benefit Specialist] Jim Bracchitta, who helped walk me through the process of selecting a plan through the marketplace. Besides holding my hand, Jim interfaced on my behalf with my husband's employers regarding the COBRA situation. This is just another example of how helpful and invaluable The Actors Fund services, and those who work on behalf of it, are.”                                                                                                            

--Brenda, Set Designer

SUPPORTIVE RESIDENCES

At The Actors Fund Home, our assisted living and nursing facility in Englewood, NJ, we’ve begun a “pandemic proofing” renovation, featuring a touchless entryway and a significant enhancement to the HVAC System to keep the facility as safe as possible from COVID-19 or any other airborne virus. We also completed a major renovation of the Palm View Residence, home to low-income entertainment workers and people living with special needs in West Hollywood, without a single COVID infection.

Also in Los Angeles, construction continues on The Hollywood Arts Collective, which will feature 151 units of affordable housing, as well as a theater, art gallery, rehearsal studios and non-profit office space—including the new home of our Western Region headquarters.

THE NEED GOING FORWARD

With many Broadway shows announcing opening dates, and venues across the country resuming live performances, there is much to feel hopeful about. At the same time, the vast majority of our clients remain unemployed or underemployed. A recent survey of clients from all over the industry revealed some sobering data:

  • 76% percent lost income.
  • 84% percent had to use savings.
  • 40% had reduced food security.
  • 28% are behind in rent or mortgage.
  • 61% percent went into credit card debt.
  • Nearly 80% reported that their mental health was negatively affected.

For many of our clients, it will take years to regain the income they lost due to the pandemic. In order to effectively serve the hardworking performing arts and entertainment professionals facing extended hardship during this time, we will continue to adapt our services and lead initiatives which identify resources and solutions for them. And we promise to keep you informed along the way.

We can’t thank you enough for your support, which makes all of this important work possible. We hope that this summer finds you safely reconnecting with friends and family, and experiencing the magic of live performance whenever possible.

Best regards,

Joe Benincasa

President & CEO