Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

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Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Inc.
BCEFA logo.png
Predecessor Equity Fights AIDS (formed October 1987)
Broadway Cares (formed February 1988)
Formation 1993[1] (merger of Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS)
Type Nonprofit organization
Purpose AIDS-related charity
Headquarters 165 West 46th Street, #1300
Manhattan, New York City New York 10036
United States

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is an American nonprofit organization, headquartered in New York City. It is the theatre community's response to the AIDS crisis. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the theatre community, on Broadway, Off-Broadway and across the country, the organization raises funds for AIDS-related causes across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, it has raised over $250 million as of 2013 for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses.


In October 1987, the Actors' Equity union founded Equity Fights AIDS, and in February 1988, The Producers' Group founded Broadway Cares, both in response to the growing AIDS epidemic. The groups merged in 1993 to form Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.[1] Between 1988 and 2006, the groups granted over $77 million to The Actor's Fund of America and various community-based AIDS Service organizations.[2] At the 47th Tony Awards in 1993, it was awarded a Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre.


The organization's grantmaking has two emphases. The first is Actors' Fund of America. BC/EFA supports five major social service programs at The Fund, each of which provides direct assistance to entertainment industry professionals and performing artists who are dealing with a variety of problems, including AIDS, HIV, and HIV-related issues. These five social service programs are the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Stage Managers' Project and The Dancers' Resource.

The second major grantmaking effort is the National Grants Program, through which the organization makes grants twice a year to more than 450 community-based AIDS Service organizations across the country. These grants total more than $10 million annually. Since 1988, more than $155 million has been given by BC/EFA to AIDS and family service organizations.

These ASO's include:[3]


Broadway Cares has two major fundraising periods, The Easter Bonnet Competition (in the spring) and The Gypsy of the Year Competition (in the Fall).[4] Over six weeks of fund-raising shows on and Off-Broadway engage in a friendly competition to see which show can raise the most money for BC/EFA. Awards are presented to the shows raising the most money and to the winning presentation. The 2010 Easter Bonnet Competition raised $3,265,700.[5] The 2010 Gypsy of the Year raised $3,776,720, the third-highest gross in the history of the event.[6]

During this fundraising period, actors return to the stage after bows and ask patrons to donate as they leave the theater.[4] Some actors have objected to this, because they oppose asking patrons for more money, or because they do not wish to break character. The shows are in competition to raise funds, and use various approaches, such as auctioning signed memorabilia, to raise more than other shows.

Broadway Bares[edit]

Broadway Bares is an annual burlesque show fundraiser for the organization, founded by Jerry Mitchell in 1992. Broadway dancers and actors perform striptease dances for the audience at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City for two shows only in June.

The 24th edition, Rock Hard! raised over $1.3 million.[7] Participants included James Franco, Bianca Del Rio, Alan Cumming, Alex Minsky and more than 150 dancers.[8] To date, Broadway Bares has raised more than $11.3 million.

Broadway Bears[edit]

"Broadway Bears" was a charity auction for BC/EFA in which teddy bears representing memorable characters from plays and musicals were auctioned to the highest bidder. The auctions raised $2,048,427 from 1998-2012, when the last of the 643 bears was auctioned off.[9] Each teddy bear is outfitted in an original, handmade costume by Broadway's leading costume designers and many are signed by stars who have portrayed the roles represented or the creative teams behind the productions. For example, these bears included Anything Goes, signed by Sutton Foster; Billy Elliot': The Musical, signed by Sir Elton John and Gregory Jbara; and Follies, signed by Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines and Stephen Sondheim.[10]

Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction[edit]

Another major event that Broadway Cares sponsors is the Annual Flea Market and Grand Auction in Shubert Alley each September. The theatre community sells props, costumes and autographed memorabilia to raise money for Broadway Cares. The second part of the day features a live auction where bidders can win anything from a walk-on in a Broadway show, to lunch with a star, to a visit to the set of their favorite TV show. The event raised $631,222 in 2013, and more than $10.3 million in its 27-year history.[11]

In 2013, participants included Jan Maxwell, Bernadette Peters, Bryan Batt, Kara Lindsay, Jeremy Jordan, Krysta Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Judith Light and the casts of Kinky Boots, Pippin, Rock of Ages and Newsies.[12]

In 2014, participants included Danny Burstein, Kathleen Chalfant, Lena Hall, Ann Harada, Andy Mientus Ben Platt, Billy Porter and more. It took place Broadway between 43rd and 44th streets, along West 44th between seventh and eighth avenues, and through Shubert Alley.[13]

Bucks County Cabaret[edit]

This yearly event is an intimate one-night only concert nestled in the heart of Bucks County. The event is held at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA. It started in 2012, starring Bebe Neuwirth and Malcolm Gets. In 2013, Alan Cumming headlined the event which raised $165,750.[14] In 2014, Linda Eder performed on and raised $131,650 for BC/EFA.[15]

Gypsy of the Year[edit]

Every autumn (usually around the end of October till the first week of December), Broadway Cares fundraises in the theatres in NYC and through the national tours. At the end of the six weeks, the shows perform skits showcasing the talents of Broadway's "gypsies" (chorus members). Actors' Equity Association's Gypsy Robe is also featured in this performance.

2014 marks the 26th annual Gypsy of the Year competition. The first one was held on November 28, 1989. It was hosted by Jonathan Hadary and Tyne Daly. Twelve shows raised a total of $67,000 that year.[16]

The 2013 Gypsy of the Year competition was held on December 9 and 10 at the Minskoff Theatre. Best Presentation was awarded to The Lion King for the second year in a row while Kinky Boots was celebrated as the top fundraiser, bringing in $377,301.[17] The 25th Annual event raised over $4,000,000.[16]

The 2014 Gypsy of Year competition was held on December 8 and 9 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Best presentation was awarded to The Lion King for the third year in a row, while The River took the title as top fundraiser, having raised $549,725. It was followed by It's Only a Play. The event, which featured Hugh Jackman, Judith Light, Nathan Lane, and a 40th Anniversary Celebration of The Wiz, raised $5,229,611.[18]

Over $62.4 million has been raised through Gypsy of the Year.

Broadway Backwards[edit]

Broadway Backwards is a yearly event that benefits Broadway Cares and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. The first performance was in 2006. The benefit puts a twist on male and female character songs from Broadway and off-Broadway shows. For example, in 2014, Kyle Dean Massey and Jose Llana performed "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I.[19]

The 2014 benefit was held at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on March 24. Raising $423,182, it was the most successful Broadway Backwards to date, surpassing 2013's record-breaking $347,060 raised at the Palace Theatre.[20][21] The 2014 benefit was hosted by Julie White and Bebe Wood and included performances by Jonathan Groff, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Beth Leavel, Norm Lewis, Billy Porter, and Andrew Rannells.[20]

Easter Bonnet[edit]

Easter Bonnet is an annual spring fundraiser in the theatre community, produced by and benefiting Broadway Cares. For six weeks, shows fundraise in their theatres, whether they're on Broadway, Off-Broadway, or touring.[22] Volunteers and cast members hold red buckets after each performance and collect donations. Some shows sell autographed Playbills, posters, and props. Other shows offer auctions to meet the cast backstage or win an autographed prop. At the end of the six weeks, each show is invited to participate in the two-day Easter Bonnet competition. During this competition, performers from participating shows sing and dance while wearing their shows' unique "Easter Bonnets". Guest judges then choose award recipients for best bonnet design and performance.[23]

The 2015 judges at the 29th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition were Actors Fund of America President and CEO Joseph Benincasa, Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn from Fun Home, Corey Cott and Vanessa Hudgens from Gigi, Robert Fairchild and director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon from An American in Paris, Judith Ivey and Rufus Wright from The Audience, and Nathaniel Parker from Wolf Hall Parts One & Two. Two additional judges, Jake Perlman and Peg Wendlandt, were high bidders at the 28th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction.[24] The company of Avenue Q won the 2015 Best Presentation Award, and the company of Jersey Boys won the 2015 Best Design Award for their bonnet.[24]

The 2014 judges at the 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition were Gregg Barnes, Christopher Hanke, Carly Rae Jepsen, Michael McKean, Jim Norton, Patrick Page, Annie Potts, Anthony Rapp, and two judges who won their spot on the panel through an auction at the 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction.[25] The judges selected The Lion King for best presentation and Once for best bonnet design.[26]

Since its creation in 1987, the Easter Bonnet Competition has raised $63.3 million for BC/EFA.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff (March 23, 2011). Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Inc. – Financial Statements – September 30, 2010 and 2009. p. 7. EisnerAmper. Retrieved June 18, 2012. "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Inc. (the "Organization") is a not-for-profit entity formed in 1993 in the State of New York...."
  2. ^ "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS – Web Page". Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b DiLella, Frank (November 23, 2010). "The "Gypsy" in Us All: A Curtain Call To Action". Playbill.
  5. ^ Ross, Blake. "Inside the Bonnet". Playbill. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  6. ^ Viagas, Robert (December 7, 2010). "Rock of Ages Wins Gypsy of the Year; Event Earns $3.78 Million for BC/EFA" Playbill.
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  10. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 19, 2012). "Final Broadway Bears Fundraiser Brings in Record-Breaking $198,300". Playbill.
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  24. ^ a b c "52 Shows Propel Easter Bonnet Competition to New Heights". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
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