Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is awarding $575,000 in emergency grants to provide immediate, on-the-ground assistance to those battling the ravages of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
On behalf of the entire Broadway and Off-Broadway community, Broadway Cares is providing a $200,000 grant to the Hispanic Federation, $50,000 to Feeding South Florida, $50,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay, $125,000 to organizations across Texas and $150,000 to entertainment industry and performing arts professionals through The Actors Fund.
“In the best and worst of times, the Broadway community – those onstage, offstage and in the audience – are among the most generous people around,” said Paul Libin, president of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Board of Trustees and executive vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters. “So when tragedy and heartache strike, it comes as no surprise that this community once again looks to offer a helping hand up, a supportive shoulder and tangible assistance. On behalf of the entire theatre community, Broadway Cares is proud to quickly and responsibly assist those affected by these extraordinary events.”
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, 2017, bringing torrential winds and record-breaking rainfall to Houston and the surrounding areas. Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the Caribbean before making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Florida on September 10, causing mass devastation across the Florida Keys, southern Florida and in the Tampa area. Hurricane Maria followed a similar path just days later, delivering its greatest wrath on Puerto Rico on September 20. The storm knocked out power for the entire island and left hundreds of thousands homeless, creating apocalyptic devastation and a still-unfolding humanitarian crisis.
The $200,000 emergency grant to the Hispanic Federation will provide first responders with transportation to San Juan, as well as supply them with trucks and other relief equipment to respond to the most basic critical and logistical needs.
“I am incredibly grateful to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for their swift and generous response to the desperate situation faced by my people of Puerto Rico,” said Luis Miranda Jr., founding president of the Hispanic Federation. “Through my son, Lin-Manuel, I have gotten to know this fantastic Broadway community, where everyone is brought into the family in the spirit of teamwork and support. This grant to the Hispanic Federation’s relief effort will make an incredible impact, here at the start of what will be a long journey to recovery.”
Thomas Mantz, executive director of Feeding Tampa Bay, echoed the long-term need for support of their communities. “We know that many people lost wages during the storm, and this has strained family budgets and created an income deficit,” Mantz said. “We also know that most do not have insurance or the means to restock their pantries. While the storm is long gone, the effects will linger on.”
Feeding South Florida has been particularly focused on sending supplies to the Florida Keys, which were hit by Hurricane Irma when it was a Category 4 storm. The organization has also been supporting cities with boil-water advisories, and supplying police and fire departments with water and meals.
“Feeding South Florida was the first to get water, meals, snacks, and non-food items such as personal hygiene products, paper towels, toilet paper and diapers to the keys,” said Feeding South Florida Director of Community Relations Sari Vatske. “Since Irma hit, we’ve distributed more than 3 million pounds of supplies. All this to say, your support is most appreciated.”
The grants to Florida and Puerto Rico follow grants made to Texas organizations a few weeks earlier. Six of the Houston organizations that received emergency grants are already part of Broadway Cares’ National Grants Program. AIDS Foundation Houston, Covenant House Texas and Legacy Community Health each received an additional $10,000 grant; Brentwood Community Foundation, Casa de Esperanza de los Niños and Fundación Latinoamericana de Acción Social each received additional $5,000 grants.
Emergency grants were provided to nine food banks across Texas that helped in areas directly affected by the storm and in places where those displaced relocated. These organizations also provide resources to smaller community-based food pantries and meal service programs working in local churches and community centers. Grants of $5,000 each were awarded to Brazos Valley Food Bank in Bryan, Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent in Victoria, Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Galveston County Food Bank, Houston Food Bank, San Antonio Food Bank and Southeast Texas Food Bank in Beaumont.
Broadway Cares also awarded $10,000 to the Alley Theatre in Houston, which has sustained serious flooding and in the past graciously raised money for Broadway Cares; and $5,000 to the SPCA of Texas for its work in Houston and with shelters and rescue organizations across the state to retrieve, save and reunite individuals and families with their beloved companion animals.
The Actors Fund received a $150,000 grant for providing emergency financial assistance and resources for those who work in performing arts and entertainment and are affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
In addition to these grants, Broadway Cares affiliate R.Evolución Latina is donating a portion of its Dance-A-Thon fundraising dollars to support the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Donate here.
“These grants would not be possible without the tireless efforts and endless support from the Broadway community and Broadway Cares supporters,” Viola said. “Every ticket purchased to one of our events and every vintage Playbill bought at the Broadway Flea Market is making a real, tangible difference in the lives of those who need it most. As Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions head into our fall fundraising efforts next month, we’ll continue to look for ways to augment these recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas.”