As millions of people in New York City suffer from the corona virus and its devastating economic effects, one of the hardest hit places has been the legendary Great White Way.
When Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all gatherings of 500 or more people to be banned because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, he also effectively shut down Broadway, one of New York City’s most iconic tourist attractions.
And in addition to the high-profile stars and producers usually associated with the industry, the closure also meant hundreds of working-class actors, stage managers, tech workers and others had been suspended from work indefinitely.
In response to this crisis, the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), a union representing over 51,000 actors, dancers and singers, announced Tuesday that it would go in to help its members who may now need help covering everything from rent and food to medical treatment, should they find that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Actors and stage managers run the kind of paycheck to pay a lot of the time,” AEA Executive Director Mary McColly told The Post.
“One of the things they have [AEA] really good is to help with grants to people who are in financial need. And it’s really a moment where everyone in the entertainment industry is in great need, much bigger than usual. “
The AEA made an initial grant of $ 500,000 to start the fund, called “Curtain Up”, and hopes to match each grant, up to $ 250,000.
It could mean a weight off the shoulders of some actors and entertainment staff for which news about the virus also meant concern to end.
“I hadn’t actually worked in a long time and came back here to do an off-Broadway show last fall, which didn’t necessarily pay the bills. So I bleed the most money, says Ciara Renèe, who in February took the role of Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.”
“I know that there are many Broadway shows and off-Broadway shows that simply won’t survive this and have closed before they even started,” she adds.
The “Curtain up” fund is not the only way for AEA to raise funds to help players in their time of need. On Sunday, Rosie O’Donnell hosted a one-night show featuring Broadway stars such as Billy Porter, Patti LuPone, Aaron Tveit – as on March 23 announced he tested positive for coronavirus – and many more.
The show raised over $ 600,000.
New York’s ban on large gatherings continues to apply until April 12, which led the American Theater Wing to announce on Wednesday that the Tony Awards 2020 will not take place as scheduled on June 7. They will be rescheduled for a later date.
Despite the unmatched effect of the shutdown on art and culture in the city, Ciara says: “We are still working to create things that you love and to delight your life.
“We try our best to give you smiles,” she says. “So it would be good if we could also get financial help.”
Tax deductible donations can be made to the Actors Fund here.