TO REFLECT REACH OF SERVICES AND DIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONS
New York, NY (May 10, 2022) – The Actors Fund, the 140-year-old national human services organization for everyone in performing arts and entertainment, announced at its Annual Gala yesterday that, effective immediately, they have changed their name to Entertainment Community Fund, in order to better reflect the broad scope of industry professionals they help.
Tony Award-winning actor and Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell made the announcement at the Fund’s Annual Gala held in both Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures and New York City at the Marriott Marquis. The evening, which was simulcasted from both coasts, raised a record-breaking $1.7 million for the longstanding organization, which will celebrate its milestone 140th anniversary in June.
The first Entertainment Community Fund Medals of Honor were presented to Emmy Award-winning actor and activist Uzo Aduba; President and CEO of Paramount Global Bob Bakish; Academy Award, Tony Award and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Mercedes Ruehl; and Chairman and CEO of The Shubert Organization Robert E. Wankel.
In attendance to present throughout the evening were, in New York, Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster, Alex Newell, Kenny Leon and Harris Yulin, and in Los Angeles, LL Cool J, Amanda Kloots, Edmund Donovan and Brian Robbins, President & Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon.
Performances included, in New York, Joaquina Kalukango, star of Paradise Square; Samantha Williams, who recently starred in Caroline, or Change; members of Broadway’s Company (Bobby Conte, Claybourne Elder and Manu Narayan) and Broadway’s original company of SIX (Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Abby Mueller, Brittney Mack, Samantha Pauly and Anna Uzele); and in Los Angeles, Olivier Award-winning actress Amber Riley and singer-songwriter and guitarist Gaby Moreno.
“It’s a new name and a new look, with the same mission,” said Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell. “We recognize the dedication of technicians, camera operators, stagehands, writers, musicians, stage managers, actors and thousands more who work in film, television, radio, music, theater, dance and opera. They all contribute to our country’s cultural vibrancy. We value them. We support them. And the Fund is here for all of them.”
“If you are doing standup in Chicago or music videos in Atlanta, you need to know the Entertainment Community Fund is here for you,” said 5-time Emmy nominee and Fund trustee Chandra Wilson. “Performing arts and entertainment are a fundamental part of every community, large and small, throughout the country, and the Fund is here to help people in that space regardless of what they do. We recognize that it can be uniquely challenging to sustain a life in the arts. It is why we come together as a community to help each other.”
“We’ve long worked to meet the needs of those working throughout the entertainment industry, across the country,” said Joseph Benincasa, President and CEO of the Entertainment Community Fund. “Now, with our new name, we can reflect the full scope of what we do and the broad range of performing arts and entertainment professionals we serve.”
The Entertainment Community Fund has been the only organization, with reach from coast to coast, committed to helping all of those who work in entertainment and the performing arts, in every aspect over their lifespan and throughout the entire course of their careers. The organization provides holistic support to assist members of the entertainment community with the unique hardships of working in the industry and lift them up when crises hit–like when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire performing arts and entertainment industry in March of 2020.
The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on workers in the entertainment industry. Amid these dire conditions, the Fund scaled up its operations to fulfill its mission of fostering stability and resilience. In 2020 and 2021, the organization served more than 60,000 individuals through a wide range of programs and services focusing on health and wellness, career and life, and financial wellness (a 68% increase over the preceding two non-pandemic years). Since March of 2020, the Fund has distributed more than $26.8 million in emergency financial assistance to some 17,900 individuals.
Partners in the entertainment space, including unions and other non-profit organizations, praised the name change, noting that while actors are a critical piece of the organization and were among the founding members, the Fund has long worked to help numerous professions throughout the industry.
“Our membership has benefited greatly from the services of the Fund,” said Writers Guild of America West President Meredith Stiehm. “This new name will help more people in the entertainment industry to find support when they need it.”
“This rebranding embraces everyone on set and behind the scenes,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “Our work is a collaboration and that collaboration is expressed beautifully in the new name.”
“There is no cause more worthy than providing people with dignity,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb. “This name change reflects the help the Fund has historically provided and continues to provide to our brothers and sisters of the IATSE.”
“I can’t even count the number of friends and colleagues who have told me that the Fund saved their lives,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “That long, essential tradition of intervention and support for the human beings who fuel our uniquely challenging industry must be reflected in the organization’s name, so that everyone who makes the performing arts possible recognizes that these resources are available to them as well."
"The newly branded Fund provides important services for our members and the community at large,” said Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter. “We’re proud to support such a caring organization.”
“For more than 25 years, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has proudly supported and strengthened the work of the Fund. We couldn’t think of a more fitting name to continue this extraordinary legacy than the Entertainment Community Fund,” said Tom Viola, Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. “It truly expresses the broad cross section of those assisted and the breadth of the services provided to all.”
“We help people navigate challenges in their lives no matter what their role in this industry,” continued Benincasa. “We’re proud to continue this legacy, and to continue to help all members of our community to build more resilient futures.”
For more information, visit entertainmentcommunity.org.
ABOUT THE ENTERTAINMENT COMMUNITY FUND
Supporting a life in the arts
The Entertainment Community Fund, formerly The Actors Fund, is a national human services organization that addresses the unique needs of people who work in performing arts and entertainment with services focused on health and wellness, career and life, and housing. Since 1882, the Fund has sought to ensure stability, encourage resiliency and be a safety net for those who shape our country’s cultural vibrancy. Learn more at entertainmentcommunity.org.