After 140 years, the Actors Fund is getting a new name. The charitable organization will rebrand itself as the Entertainment Community Fund, which it says better reflects the work that it does to help industry professionals from a vast array of jobs and disciplines.
“One of the challenges we have always faced is that we are not just for actors, we are here to work with everybody in show business,” says Tony Award-winning actor and Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell. “Our name needed to reflect that.”
It was Mitchell who announced the rechristening at the fund’s annual gala on Monday, which was held in both Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures and New York City at the Marriott Marquis. The evening raised a record-breaking $1.7 million.
The Entertainment Community Fund, as it will henceforth be known, provided a vital source of support for the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it truly was the entire industry — grips and gaffers, directors and writers, ticket takers and set designers. The public health crisis shut down theaters for nearly two years and forced film and television production to halt for months, depriving thousands of people of work.
“One of the biggest challenges to anybody in show business is that our insurance is predicated on weeks worked,” says Mitchell. “When the pandemic happened and everybody lost their jobs, many people lost their insurance too. And that wasn’t all. They needed emergency assistance for the most essential needs such as paying for their rent, paying for prescription drugs, paying their utility bills.
To meet the need, the fund served more than 60,000 individuals in 2020 and 2021, a 68% increase over the preceding two non-pandemic years. Since March 2020, the fund has distributed more than $26.8 million in emergency financial assistance to some 17,900 individuals.
“When a lot of people think of the entertainment business they think about Denzel Washington or Julia Roberts,” says Mitchell. “But the majority of people in show business are day-to-day jobbers, going from gig to gig and often just barely hanging on.”