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, and Edmund Donovan.
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.