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Weaving a Safety Net for The Actors Fund


Merriam-Webster defines a safety net as "something that provides security against misfortune or difficulty.” That simple definition defies the depth and complexity of the social services safety net provided by The Actors Fund.

For more than 25 years, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has been helping to support and strengthen that safety net, which thousands in the entertainment industry rely on every day.  Beginning with funding to start the HIV/AIDS Initiative in 1988 to this year's addition of $500,000 to help the Actors Health Insurance Resource Center, Broadway Cares has provided financial stability for The Actors Fund in support of colleagues who are in need, crisis or transition.

"Since 1988, BC/EFA has awarded The Actors Fund a staggering $73 million and we are proud stewards of this support," Actors Fund Chief Executive Office Joe Benincasa said. "And this year, BC/EFA granted a one-year record high of $4.6 million. How Broadway Cares inspires our community is absolutely miraculous and it makes The Fund's good work possible."

BC/EFA is the single largest funder of The Actors Fund programs. Broadway Cares supports The Fund’s essential social service programs, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, the Actors Health Insurance Resource Center, the Actors Fund Work Program, The Dancers' Resource and the Stage Managers' Project.

“The most important services offered by The Actors Fund are the counseling and comprehensive advocacy provided by the social service workers navigating the challenging bureaucracy of the many public and private support systems,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said.

And among the most challenging bureaucracies are those that have grown around the Affordable Care Act.

“Getting health insurance or finding quality medical care is a constant concern for anyone who is uninsured or who isn’t covered by an employer, union or government health plan as is the case for many people who work in performing arts and entertainment,” said Barbara Davis, The Fund’s chief operating officer. “Thanks to BC/EFA’s generous grant of $500,000 in support of our Artists Health Insurance Resource Center, The Actors Fund is in a position to connect everyone in our creative community across the country to health insurance and affordable health care.”

The Actors Fund offers a comprehensive array of programs and services. By providing one-on-one sessions with social workers, group programs, seminars, employment and training services, free health care, supportive and senior housing, health insurance and more, The Actors Fund helps all entertainment professionals in need. Last year, The Fund assisted 17,000 people, a 28 percent increase over the previous year.

HIV/AIDS Initiative
The HIV/AIDS Initiative works with men and women in the entertainment industry to create confidential, holistic plans and support systems that will meet each person’s emotional, medical and financial needs. The HIV/AIDS Initiative facilitates support not just for those living with HIV/AIDS, but also for their caregivers and partners who are HIV-negative.

The HIV/AIDS Initiative provides an array of supportive services including emergency financial assistance for basic necessities such as rent, food, health insurance and non-reimbursable medical expenses, case management referrals to other sources of community and public assistance, benefits advocacy, vocational retraining, counseling and support groups.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $2.1 million in support for the HIV/AIDS Initiative in 2014.

Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative
The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, created in 1996 with a grant from Broadway Cares, is staffed by social workers experienced in helping women manage a range of critical health concerns.

The initiative’s dedicated resources address needs specific to women, including breast, cervical and ovarian cancers, domestic violence, chemical dependency and mental health issues. The goal is to help women receive the care and support they need to reduce stress and focus on their wellness.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $600,000 in support for the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative in 2014.

Artists Health Insurance Resource Center
The fund's Artists Health Insurance Resource Center was started in 1998 with the singular mission to insure every artist in the United States.  Now that that goal is closer to reality, AHIRC is positioned to help the industry understand the Affordable Care Act, its opportunities and its implications.

With in-person counseling in New York and Los Angeles, national telephone support and workshops throughout the country, AHIRC continues to work to reduce the number of uninsured artists and expand access to quality, affordable health care.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $500,000 in support for AHIRC in 2014.

Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic
The Al Hirschfeld Free Heath Clinic addresses the immediate needs of those in the entertainment industry who are uninsured or underinsured. Located in New York City, the clinic provides urgent, primary and specialty care and patient education.

The clinic addresses ongoing management of medical problems, urgent sick visits, flu vaccinations, prostate exams, breast examinations, tuberculosis and diabetes screening, blood pressure and cholesterol testing, vision screening and more. All lab work is free of charge. In collaboration with Project Renewal Scan Van, the clinic also provides free mammogram services each month.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $600,000 in support for the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in 2014.

Actors Fund Work Program
A comprehensive employment and training program, the Actors Fund Work Program helps entertainment professionals identify and find sideline work and new careers in industries where their skills and experience are also valued.

By highlighting the skills of entertainment industry professionals – such as communication, discipline, creativity, flexibility and professionalism – the Actors Fund Work Program has helped clients begin careers in many other industries, including teaching, administrative support, healing professions and real estate.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $300,000 in support for the Actors Fund Work Program in 2014.

The Dancers’ Resource
Launched in 2007 with a grant from Broadway Cares, The Dancers' Resource provides support, education and information through one-on-one counseling in New York City and telephone and email support to those across the country.

Through a dedicated social worker, the program also offers groups for dancers dealing with injuries or other health concerns. Through these groups, dancers can safely and confidentially address the emotional issues and other complexities that are specific to dancers facing physical problems. The program also addresses mental health issues, eating disorders, substance abuse and depression.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $150,000 in support for The Dancers’ Resource in 2014.

Stage Managers’ Project
The Stage Managers’ National Health Directory offers a web-based directory providing Broadway and national touring companies with a list of doctors and health professionals in 30 cities across the country. The Actors Fund as a single reliable source of doctors and specialists who can be called when cast members, crew and staff need medical care assembled the directory. The practitioners included were recommended by theaters, stage managers, actors and others in the entertainment industry.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provided $50,000 in support for the Stage Managers’ Project in 2014.

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Broadway Cares/Equity Fights for AIDS

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Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization.

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