Sunday, November 25, 2007

A season for giving

Both Sarah at Adventures in the Endless Pursuit of Entertainment and Steve on Broadway have written eloquently about the work of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the effect the stagehands' strike is having on fundraising efforts. Every week of lost performances is costing an estimated $350,000 in donations.

I want to add that the work of this organization helps people not just in New York City or with some connection to Broadway, but all over the United States and indeed, the world.

In 2005, BC/EFA awarded grants totaling $2,243,500 to over 486 AIDS and family service organizations in 47 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. According to the BC/EFA Web site, "the vast majority of these grassroots organizations operate on bare-bones budgets, but still manage to have a significant impact in their communities."

In addition, recognizing the support from Broadway shows that originated overseas or have large numbers of foreign-born actors in their casts, BC/EFA has become a worldwide organization. For example, since 1998, BC/EFA has sent over $1.2 million to 34 South African AIDS service providers in honor of and identified by the South African actors in three companies of "The Lion King."

I remember being a bit startled at the end of "Curtains" when David Hyde Pierce stopped being Lt. Frank Cioffi of the Boston Police Department and was just, well, David Hyde Pierce - serious, yet charming and witty as he briefly explained the work of BC/EFA and asked us to dig a little deeper into our pockets. Pierce's appeal, which I and just about everyone else willingly answered, gave me a sense of the extent to which Broadway is a community - made up of everyone in the audience, everyone on stage and everyone behind the scenes.

While New York theatergoers know that it's fairly routine for a cast member to step out of character at the end of a show to explain the work of BC/EFA and ask for a donation, it's also done at the end of some national touring productions.

At the matinee of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" that I attended last weekend, when actor Eric Roediger asked for donations he made a point of telling the audience which local organizations would benefit from their generosity.

So if you attend a performance on tour over the next month where an actor asks for your support, please consider making a donation, or stop by the Web site to give directly.

No comments: