Actors Fund of America
The Actors Fund of America is a nonprofit umbrella charitable organization that assists American entertainment and performing arts professionals through a broad spectrum of programs, including comprehensive social services, health services, supportive and affordable housing, employment and training services, and skilled nursing and assisted living care, with a current annual budget of $21,000,000. It operates the Lillian Booth Actors Home.
The Fund was founded by Albert Marshman Palmer on June 8, 1882, largely due to the efforts of former New York University student Harrison Grey Fiske, editor of the New York Dramatic Mirror, who was aware of the many problems faced by those in the profession. Funds raised at the 1892 Fair, held at Madison Square Garden, enabled the charity to begin providing individuals and families with assistance, including burial plots in a Brooklyn cemetery and accommodations in the Actors’ Fund home. Its first president was J. Lester Wallaxk and his theater played hos to its first meeting. Wallack was a Shepherd of The Lambs; other Lambs were Daniel Frohman, the Fund's first secretary, A.M. Palmer, the Fund's first vice president, and Theodore Mass, its first treasurer. Throughout the next several decades, benefit performances held throughout the country raised significant amounts of revenue to subsidize the Fund's many projects. When the AIDS crisis hit the industry in the 1980s, it was there to help thousands of individuals who were affected. Writer Percy Wenrich managed the Percy Williams Home for retired actors in East Islip, New York. Wenrich was a member of The Lambs and a Life Member of the Actor's Fund. The Williams home eventually was rolled into the Actors Fund.
The Fund sponsors many special events and performances, with numerous Broadway stars and Hollywood celebrities hosting, performing, and/or attending. Theatres throughout the country frequently pledge all the proceeds from a regularly scheduled performance to the charity.
Offices are maintained in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and the Fund is associated with, and helps coordinate the work of, a wide range of sister organizations which are able to raise money through donation, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the guild/union relief funds of Actors' Equity, AFTRA; AGMA; AGVA; Episcopal Actors' Guild; The Jazz Foundation; the Professional Dancers Society; MusiCares, Society of Singers, and The Lambs.
The Fund has merged with the Actors' Work Program, which offers individual career counseling, workshops, tuition grants and scholarships for entertainment union members, and provides job listings.
The Fund operates the Aurora, a unique site which provides supportive housing to special low-income groups including seniors, working professionals and people living with AIDS. The Aurora opened in 1996 and The Actors Fund provides on-site social services for residents. The social services group provides information and referral to community resources, entitlement program advocacy, coordination of home care and medical services, outreach, health education and support groups. The on site social services staff includes two social workers, three case managers, and an activities coordinator. The Actors Fund developed this supportive housing project with its partner, The Related Companies, L.P.
The Palm View is a similar residential and medical facility which is located in West Hollywood, California. The Palm View, opened in 1998, is a 40-unit apartment complex that provides homes to low-income people with HIV/AIDS. The Palm View is a collaborative project between The Actors Fund, the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, Housing for Entertainment Professionals and various funders. The buildings are managed by the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation.
The Fund also runs the 6-acre (24,000 m2) Lillian Booth Actors Home, in Englewood, New Jersey, which is a nursing home and assisted care facility for retired members of the entertainment community. The Home is licensed by the Department of Health and qualifies for Medicaid and Medicare. Individuals who have dedicated a major portion of their professional lives to the entertainment industry are eligible for admission, without regard to their ability to pay. The Actors Fund provides funds to subsidize the extraordinary care that residents receive.
Canada also has an Actors' Fund that helps members of the Canadian entertainment industry.
England also "looks after their own" in the entertainment world (see below for their website).
In 2014, Fund President and CEO Joseph Benincasa was awarded with an Honorary Tony for outstanding contribution to the theatrical community for 25 years service to the Fund. Benincasa is also a member of The Lambs.