On behalf of Broadway and the entire theater community, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS announced $125,000 in immediate grants to the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and three other organizations on the front lines of the social justice and anti-racism movement. The grants were announced June 8, 2020.
Broadway Cares is making a $50,000 commitment to the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, a launch donation for their “Broadway for Black Lives Matter Again” forum and the follow-up steps outlined by #BwayforBLM. The grant will support the coalition’s ongoing efforts to help Broadway heal, listen and become an anti-racist and equitable community.
Grants of $25,000 each are being sent to The Bail Project, Color of Change and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which are all providing timely, on-the-ground action for racial equality and social justice.
“The street action and protests ignited by the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others now demand that we address systemic racism in all communities, including Broadway,” said Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. “We need to hold ourselves accountable and do more to amplify and listen to BIPOC voices. We urge others in our community to support and engage with the critical work the Broadway Advocacy Coalition is doing to dismantle systemic racism. We’re committed to continuing the work of becoming an anti-racist organization.”
The Broadway Advocacy Coalition has been supported by Broadway Cares since it started in 2016, including a grant this spring for its participation in The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues‘ “COVID & Incarceration.” The coalition works with advocates, students, artists, organizations and communities to use the arts as an integral part of ending mass incarceration and the systems that perpetuate it.
“In 2016, when we produced our first “Broadway for Black Lives Matter,” Broadway Cares came forward with swift and clear support to make that event possible and we are humbled and grateful for the continued support now,” said Adrienne Warren, a Broadway Advocacy Coalition co-founder and star of Broadway’s Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. “Black Lives Matter is a statement of humanization. In this moment of pause, may we focus our energy on committing to doing the work to own the title we so often call ourselves, ‘community.’ ”
Broadway Advocacy Coalition President and Broadway actor Britton Smith said: “Our nation’s history of racism has trickled into our industry in ways that prevent actors of color the liberties that white actors are accustomed to. With the ongoing support from Broadway Cares, we will be able to work to ensure that people of color join the tables where decisions are made, reflecting that black lives really do matter within our industry.”
The $25,000 grants announced are going to:
- The Bail Project, which works to pay cash bail for people jailed on low-level and non-violent offenses. The project has been particularly active this month helping those arrested during the equality protests. Because bail is returned at the end of a case, The Bail Project National Revolving Bail Fund can be recycled and reused to pay bail two to three times per year.
- Color of Change, which is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. Color of Change is focused on doing difficult, important and immediate work challenging injustice and holding leaders accountable.
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is the nation’s foremost civil rights law organization working toward racial equality, social justice and urgent legislative reform.
These three organizations will also be added to Broadway Cares’ National Grants Programs, ensuring annual grants continue in 2021.
Rooted deep in the history and identity of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is a commitment to giving voice for those who’ve been silenced and marginalized. And as we all reel from what is happening in front of us, feeling anger and despair, Broadway Cares stands with those who walk in fear simply for being Black.
“It is not enough to just say ‘Black lives matter,'” Viola said. “We recognize this work is unending and it’s our duty to listen and educate ourselves, and call out others, on how we can best lift up our Black colleagues, artists, community members and supporters. Lives depend on it. The fight does not end today. And our commitment and passion will not waver.”