Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

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Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is an American nonprofit organization, headquartered in New York City. It is the theatre community's response to the AIDS crisis. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the theatre community, on Broadway, Off-Broadway and across the country, the organization raises funds for AIDS-related causes across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, it has raised over $250 million as of 2014 for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses.

The organization's grantmaking has two emphases. The first is grantmaking effort is the National Grants Program, through which the organization makes grants three times a year to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide across the country. [1] The second major is The Actors Fund of America. BC/EFA supports five major social service programs at The Fund, each of which provides direct assistance to entertainment industry professionals and performing artists who are dealing with a variety of problems, including AIDS, HIV, and HIV-related issues, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, The Dancers’ Resource and the Stage Managers’ Project.


Equity Fights AIDS was founded in October 1987 by the Council of Actors' Equity Association. Money raised through the efforts of Equity theatre companies across the country was specifically earmarked for The Actors Fund's AIDS Initiative. Broadway Cares was founded in February 1988 by members of The Producers' Group. Money raised was earmarked to be awarded to AIDS service organizations nationwide, including Equity Fights AIDS.

In May 1992, Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway Cares merged to become Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Board of Trustees of this newly established not-for-profit fundraising organization assumed the missions of the previously separate organizations and continues to fund the social service work of The Actors Fund and to award grants three times a year to AIDS service organizations nationwide. [2]

Between 1988 and 2006, the groups granted over $77 million to The Actor's Fund of America and various community-based AIDS Service organizations.[3] At the 47th Tony Awards in 1993, it was awarded a Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre.

BC/EFA’s ability to keep pace with the epidemic by continuing to raise millions of dollars year after year is a testament to the ingenuity, resourcefulness and generosity of the American theatre community. More significantly, it is also a testament to the lasting impact the AIDS epidemic has had on the artists and professionals in the theater, dance and classical music industries. It is through their efforts that the majority of this fundraising is achieved.

Funding support has been divided between support for The Actors Fund, the employee assistance program of the entertainment industry, and BC/EFA’s National Grants Program, which assists hundreds of community-based organizations that provide services for people with AIDS and their families at a grassroots community level nationwide. [4]

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has two additional fundraising programs: Dancers Responding to AIDS and Classical Action, and five affiliate programs: Artists Striving to End Poverty, Broadway Green Alliance, Broadway Impact, Broadway Serves and Re.volucion Latina. [5]


Broadway Cares has two major fundraising periods, The Easter Bonnet Competition (in the spring) and The Gypsy of the Year Competition (in the Fall).[6] Over six weeks of fund-raising shows on and Off-Broadway engage in a friendly competition to see which show can raise the most money for BC/EFA. Awards are presented to the shows raising the most money and to the winning presentation. The 2010 Easter Bonnet Competition raised $3,265,700.[7] The 2010 Gypsy of the Year raised $3,776,720, the third-highest gross in the history of the event.[8]

During this fundraising period, actors return to the stage after bows and ask patrons to donate as they leave the theater.[6] Some actors have objected to this, because they oppose asking patrons for more money, or because they do not wish to break character. The shows are in competition to raise funds, and use various approaches, such as auctioning signed memorabilia, to raise more than other shows.

Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction

The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction takes place every September in Times Square, Shubert Alley and along west 44th Street in New York City. The free-to-the-public, once-a-year outdoor market features three components: the flea market tables, the celebrity autograph table and photo booth and the auction. [9]

In 2013, the 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction raised an outstanding $631,222. Thousands of theatre lovers filled Broadway's Shubert Alley and West 44th Street on Sunday, September 22, 2013, for the day-long extravaganza. They scoured 56 tables overflowing with unique Broadway treasures. They met more than 60 of Broadway's brightest stars at the Autograph Table & Photo Booth and bid on 212 Grand Auction lots in live and silent auctions. With a strong fall wind blowing through the theatre district, this year's Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction flourished on a mix of spirited shopping and competitive bidding. The tables raised $311,691, the first time in the event's history the tables topped the $300,000 mark and more than $25,000 above last year's total. The live auction raised $217,950, one of the highest totals ever. [10]

At the 2013 Broadway Flea Market, 56 tables of the Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction represented Broadway and Off-Broadway's top shows, producing organizations, unions, guilds and fan clubs, selling all variety of theatrical treasure, memorabilia, marketing materials, Playbills and handmade items. The Grand Auction included both live and silent auctions. The top-selling lot of the live auction was an opportunity to join the cast of this year's Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots in a walk-on that sold for a remarkable $8,250. Unique offerings from two of Broadway's biggest, long-running hits – The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked – helped push this year's final auction total even higher. The Phantom mask worn by star Hugh Panaro in the show's landmark 25th anniversary Broadway performance earlier this year fetched $7,500. Tickets to the 10th anniversary performance of Wicked, including passes to an exclusive star-studded after-party, raised $7,000. Opening night tickets and VIP party passes to Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, went for $6,500 while opening night tickets and party passes to the new musical If/Then, starring Idina Menzel, LaChanze and Anthony Rapp, raised $6,000; the Betrayal opening night package raised $5,300 and Aladdin raised $4,600. In all, 17 opening night packages including tickets and party passes raised $57,000. [11]

The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction made an inauspicious debut. In 1987, the event began as two tables presented by the company of A Chorus Line outside their stage door in Shubert Alley as part of the first Equity Fights AIDS week, raising $12,000 – a total staff and volunteers found astonishing. Over the next four years, under the leadership of Ethel Bayer, Maria Di Dia, Stephen Falat, Arne Gundersen and Larry Hansen, the Flea Market grew with tables from more shows, theatre-related offices, unions and guilds. Everyone recognized a good cause and a great chance to clean house. In 1988, an auction of eight lots was created, but without an experienced auctioneer to spur the bidding, it sputtered to a finish. Then, in 1989, Sotheby’s Lorna Kelly came on board as our official auctioneer and, with her expertise, a truly “grand” auction was born. Today, the Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction gets thousands from the theatre community and still more fans out of bed on a Sunday morning—filling not just Shubert Alley but a cordoned-off stretch of 44th Street, too. In 27 years, this event has raised more than $10 million. [12]

Bucks County Cabaret

Since 2012, BC/EFA has produced Bucks County Cabaret, an intimate evening of song at the Bucks County Playhouse, located in downtown New Hope, which is about 90 minutes west of New York City in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. [13] Past performers include Bebe Neuwith, Malcolm Gets [14] and Alan Cumming [15] In 2014, Linda Eder will headline the evening. [16]

Gypsy of the Year

Gypsy of the Year, which was presented in two shows each December, is an opportunity for the entire theatre community to gather for the competitive variety show and celebrate their fundraising efforts during the previous collections season.

In 2013, more than 250 gypsies, the most talented singers and dancers in the ensembles of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, performed dances, songs and skits at Gypsy of the Year, the culminating celebration of six weeks of extraordinary fundraising. This year, 56 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies raised an amazing $4,343,234 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The grand total was announced Tuesday, December 10, 2013, by surprise guest Daniel Craig, who joined Cherry Jones, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart to share the welcome news. Since 1989, the 25 editions of Gypsy of the Year have raised a total of $57,277,815 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. A standing-room-only audience at the Minskoff Theatre, home to Disney's The Lion King, erupted with thunderous applause as the actors also presented awards to the top fundraising companies and for the best performances in this year's show. This year's top fundraiser was Kinky Boots, which raised $377,301. The company of The Lion King took honors for the best onstage presentation for a captivating dance of couples who skillfully integrated ropes to spin, twirl and jump to original music by cast member Bongi Dumas and directed by Ray Mercer.[17]

The first Gypsy of the Year Competition was held at the St. James Theatre on Tuesday, November 28, 1989. Hosted by Jonathan Hadary, Tyne Daly and the company of [Gypsy], this fledging event featured gypsies from 12 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and raised $70,000. [18]

Broadway Backwards

Broadway Backwards is an annual celebration where gays and lesbians see their stories told through the great songs of musical theatre, sung by their favorite Broadway performers. The evening is produced by Broadway Cares. [19]

In 2014, the standing-room-only audience raised a record-breaking $423,182 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The staggering total surpassed the previous record of $347,060, set the previous year. Tony Award winner Julie White and Bebe Wood hosted this year's Broadway Backwards, which featured a 51-person cast and onstage orchestra. The evening's music included songs from classics like Kiss Me, Kate and contemporary hits like Kinky Boots. [20]

Broadway Backwards began as a grassroots concert performed at the Center in 2006. In subsequent years, the event grew quickly, performing Off-Broadway and in Broadway theaters.

Easter Bonnet Competition

The Easter Bonnet Competition, which was presented in two shows each April, is an opportunity for the entire theatre community to gather for the competitive variety show and celebrate their fundraising efforts during the previous collections season.

In 2014, six weeks of fundraising by 57 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies helped push the 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition to another record high, raising $4,532,129 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Broadway veterans Idina Menzel and Denzel Washington joined newcomers Bryan Cranston and Fran Drescher on April 21, 2014, to announce the final total following two stunning Easter Bonnet Competition shows filled with song, dance, comedy and 17 elaborate, creative, custom-made bonnets. The Minksoff Theatre, home to Disney's The Lion King, was packed as a standing-room audience cheered the awards presented to the companies that raised the most for Broadway Cares as well as the winner for outstanding bonnet design and best presentation. The company of The Lion King won best bonnet presentation for an uproarious take-off of their own frequently winning presentations, this time featuring the booty-short wearing "two white guys" from their show aerobically dancing to Frank Stallone's "Far from Over." After Midnight took runner-up honors for a sultry, crowd-pleasing number set in a speakeasy with gorgeous flappers, their gentlemen callers and two lounge singers who delivered a steamy, jazz-infused take on Beyonce's "Crazy in Love." [21]

The very first Easter Bonnet Competition was presented in 1987 by the cast of La Cage Aux Folles at the Palace Theater and raised $21,000 for the National AIDS Network. In 1988 the event was produced as a benefit for BC/EFA and raised $51,000. [22]

Broadway Bares

Broadway Bares is a modern-day burlesque show produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS each June.

In 2014, Broadway Bares: Rock Hard!, a luscious, modern-day mix tape of sensual sights and sounds featuring 170 of New York's sexiest dancers, celebrated its move to a new home on June 22, 2014, by raising $1,386,105 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Honoring iconic music moments and songs from Elvis to Pink, Aerosmith to Prince, the 24th edition of the burlesque extravaganza got a crowd of more than 5,000 people rocking, jumping and cheering for more during two performances at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom. The opening number found Matthew Saldivar and Joey Taranto as dads escorting their preteen daughters to a One Direction concert. Longing for the rock concerts of their youth, the pair stepped into a dream world of hard rockers with ripped abs, voluptuous divas and randy roadies. The opening was written by Matthew Sklar and Amanda Green. Director Nick Kenkel, Paula Caselton and Sidney Erik Wright choreographed the number. Broadway Bares: Rock Hard! was directed by Kenkel, who also directed last year's Broadway Bares: United Strips of America. It was produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, led by Producing Director Michael Graziano and J. Jason Daunter. [23]

The first Broadway Bares was presented in 1992 by Jerry Mitchell and the company of The Will Rogers Follies at Splash bar. Eight dancers "in rotation" on the bar raised more than $8,000. Since then, the event has continuously performed to sell out crowds in some of Manhattan's largest clubs. [24]

Broadway Barks

Broadway Barks is an annual dog and cat event founded by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore to find homes for pets from city animal shelters. Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, proceeds from the auction and other donations received during the day benefit the participating shelters and rescue groups as well as the Picasso Veterinary Fund, which is administered by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and provides grants to shelters and rescue groups to cover extraordinary veterinary costs. [25]

In 2014, dozens of adoptable dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes joined hundreds of pet lovers to fill the New York City theatre district's famed Shubert Alley as 60 of Broadway's best and brightest performers volunteered their time to help raise awareness for adopting rescue pets. For many of the animals, their short lives have been a struggle, but they basked in love and adoration July 12, 2014, at the 16th annual edition of Broadway Barks. The highlight every year for many of those filling Shubert Alley is when Broadway's best take the stage with the dogs and cats available for adoption. Hugging the huskies and petting the poodles, the 60 celebrities introduced each shelter and rescue group represented at the event and showed off the pooches available to take home.

Broadway Barks featured adoptable animals from New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies, including ASPCA, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Adopt a Boxer Rescue, Animal Care and Control of NYC, Animal Haven, Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), Bideawee, Bobbi & the Strays, City Critters, Humane Society of New York, Husky House, KittyKind, Loving Touch Animal Center, Manhattan Valley Cat Rescue, Metropolitan Maltese Rescue, Mid Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, NY Pet-I-Care, P.L.U.T.O. Rescue (Pet Lovers United Together As One), Posh Pets Rescue, Russell Refuge, Save Kitty Foundation, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Stray from the Heart, Tigger Foundation and Urban Cat League. [26]

Grants to The Actors Fund

For the better part of two decades, a unique collaborative relationship has existed between Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Actors Fund, with fundraising success contributing directly to the vital programs The Fund provides for professionals in the theatrical community. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS supports the essential social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, the Actors Work Program and The Dancers’ Resource, as well as numerous projects such as The New York Stage Managers Unofficial Health Directory and more.

Since 1988, BC/EFA has granted more than $59.5 million to The Actors Fund to support these vital initiatives and programs. In Fiscal Year 2011, BC/EFA awarded $4,014,500 to The Actors Fund. The HIV/AIDS Initiative received $2,100,000, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative received $600,000, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic received $600,000, the Actors Work Program received $350,000 and The Dancers’ Resource received $200,000. In 2011, $1,280,811 was distributed by The Actors Fund in emergency financial assistance to 262 individuals living with AIDS. BC/EFA also was glad to support the Stage Managers’ Project with a grant of $75,000 for the print and online version of The New York Stage Managers Unofficial Health Directory, as well as $89,000 for The Actors Fund annual gala, memorial gifts and other smaller donations.

Through the partnership with The Actors Fund, BC/EFA has touched the lives of thousands of entertainment professionals living with HIV/AIDS, as well as hundreds of thousands more coping with a variety of other health issues, emergencies and challenges. The Actors Fund is a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment including everyone in the theatre community. With BC/EFA’s expanded support for The Actors Fund, everyone in the entertainment industry can benefit from the safety net created first for people with AIDS, but now for all of us.

The Actors Fund provides for the welfare of all who earn their living through employment in the entertainment industry: the stage manager, dancer or theatrical press agent with AIDS and no health insurance; the actor looking to make a transition into a second career; the retired costume designer having difficulty living on Social Security and unclear about his Medicaid benefits; the stage carpenter, company manager or actress facing a crisis around an issue of addiction or the musician in need of supportive housing. All are part of the entertainment industry and all can find assistance through The Actors Fund. [27]

National Grants

The ongoing funding support provided through the National Grants Program is an essential component of BC/EFA’s commitment, specifically to people with AIDS outside of the entertainment industry and the organizations that serve them. BC/EFA’s National Grants Program was conceptualized with two objectives. The first was to responsibly grant funds as quickly as possible so that organizations responding to the AIDS crisis would be able to address the constant state of emergency that people with AIDS faced during the early days of the epidemic. The second was to spread BC/EFA’s resources to as many organizations throughout the country as possible in order to create an awareness of HIV/AIDS among service providers and to use relatively modest grants made by BC/EFA to leverage greater resources to address the needs of all communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

The HIV epidemic has grown and intensified beyond the gay community, particularly in communities of color, with a high incidence among women and their children, as well as in persons with substance abuse histories. HIV has always reinforced or created economic hardship. Therefore, BC/EFA saw a need to focus its National Grants Program on direct services such as food programs, support programs for clothing and personal hygiene items, and emergency assistance programs to avoid evictions or loss of health insurance. At the same time, BC/EFA was compelled to develop funding options that supported the integrity of families and the quality of life of people living with AIDS. Funding became available for family support, including bereavement support, burials for family members, summer camps, recreational and cultural outings and alternative therapies. BC/EFA also demonstrated its leadership by being among the first to fund needle exchange programs, long before most other funders supported these programs, and even before New York State decriminalized syringe possession.

Initially BC/EFA’s National Grants Program committee met once a year to award grants to AIDS service organizations in six categories: Food Services; Emergency Assistance; Direct Services; One-Time Expense; Substance Abuse and Harm Reduction Services; and Quality of Life Programs. In March 2002, BC/EFA initiated a second grant round for a small subset of Nationally Recognized AIDS Service Organizations, as well as a number of organizations doing advocacy and public policy work that affects the hundreds of service providers BC/EFA funds. These are organizations whose mission as providers of HIV/AIDS services and/or advocacy is nationally recognized as pivotal within a large geographic area or an area with a particularly high concentration of those living with HIV/AIDS.

BC/EFA serves as a grant making conduit between Broadway audiences (groups that immediately respond to the fundraising appeals made by entertainment professionals) and people living with HIV/AIDS. Consistent with this ideal, our grant making targets direct services. Nothing embodies this concept more than ensuring a person who is sick has a decent meal. In January of 2006, BC/EFA determined to make the Food Service Organizations category its own separate grant round affording the opportunity for a larger award than was available in the overall national grant round awarded every spring.

In the last two years, a number of the largest meal delivery programs have tried expanding their services to include those with other debilitating illnesses. Because they believe that this expansion of services is a smart, strategic plan, beginning in January 2006, BC/EFA offered those food service and meal delivery programs with expanded missions the opportunity to receive larger grants of up to $35,000. This not only offers assistance to more people in need, but in doing so encourages increased funding opportunities in a very difficult fundraising climate, thereby ensuring that delivered meals will continue to be provided to people with AIDS for the foreseeable future.[28]

See also




  3. "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDSTemplate:Spaced ndash Web Page". Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
  6. 6.0 6.1 DiLella, Frank (November 23, 2010). "The "Gypsy" in Us All: A Curtain Call To Action". Playbill.
  7. Ross, Blake. "Inside the Bonnet". Playbill. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  8. Viagas, Robert (December 7, 2010). "Rock of Ages Wins Gypsy of the Year; Event Earns $3.78 Million for BC/EFA" Playbill.

External links