Broadway Producers Pledge $1 Million Challenge Match for Coronavirus Emergency Relief

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From left: Marc Platt, Scott Rudin, Jeffrey Seller and David Stone

More than 20 industry leaders including Marc Platt, Scott Rudin, Jeffrey Seller and David Stone have banded together to double the impact of an assistance fund set up by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund set up at long-running charitable organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to provide financial relief and services for entertainment professionals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and work shutdown has received a boost from some of the sector's most successful producers.

Marc Platt, Scott Rudin, Jeffrey Seller, David Stone, Daryl Roth, Jordan Roth and Bill Damaschke are among a group of more than 20 producers who have come together with a pledge to match every donation, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million.

The fund was launched March 17, just days after Broadway ceased operations following a New York state-wide mandate to close live entertainment venues with seating capacity above 500. Smaller off-Broadway and regional theaters soon followed, initially as a voluntary precaution and then in response to further restrictions in the bid to slow the spread of the new virus.

BC/EFA allocated an initial $250,000 to the fund, which has so far raised $580,000. Lin-Manuel Miranda generated $52,000 during a special segment of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: At Home Edition.

Administered by The Actors Fund, which helps professionals across the industry, from performers through stagehands to ushers, the new relief program has received 5,000 applications in the past 10 days from theater workers facing unprecedented health and financial challenges. 

Spencer Ross initiated the producers' challenge by pledging $50,000 and recruiting other producers to match that donation. Rebecca Gold Milikowsky was the first to respond, joining Ross to help spearhead the recruitment effort. The challenge match has enabled Broadway Cares to increase its fundraising goal for the initiative to $2 million by April 12.

Other producers on board for the challenge include Elizabeth Armstrong, Diana DiMenna, Jeanne Donovan Fischer, S. Asher Gelman, John Gore and Lauren Reid of The John Gore Organization, Louise Gund, Judi Krupp, Larry and Beth Lenke, Carmen Pavlovic and Gerry Ryan, Jana Shea, Iris Smith and Barbara Whitman.

Since 1988, BC/EFA has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people living with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the country and is the major supporter of social service programs at The Actors Fund.

Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund supports performers and behind-the-scenes theater workers, providing emergency financial assistance, social services, affordable housing, health care and insurance counseling and addiction support. 

Among urgent cases dealt with in recent days, the group provided insurance assistance for a diabetic musician who lost all his gigs, food and rental assistance for actor parents with two young children and a third on the way, and temporary housing for a director to self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

A one-night-only return of The Rosie O'Donnell Show on Sunday with a massive lineup of stage stars was live-streamed on Broadway.com and the website's YouTube channel as a benefit for The Actors Fund. While donations are continuing, the initiative as of yesterday had raised over $600,000. 

Tax-deductible donations to BC/EFA's Emergency Assistance Fund can be made at broadwaycares.org/help2020