The foundation created by legendary lyricist Fred Ebb awarded $2.6 million to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS as 2021 ended, topping the foundation’s previous record donation in 2020 and cementing its place as the largest single donor in Broadway Cares history.
The year-end gift was put to work immediately with $1.5 million in additional support sent to The Actors Fund to provide assistance for everyone in entertainment and the performing arts, particularly through The Friedman Health Center, the Artists Health Insurance Resource Center and the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Fred Ebb Foundation gift, shepherded by Ebb’s nephew Mitchell S. Bernard, also will jump start Broadway Cares’ continued national grant-making in 2022.
“Fred and Mitch give us the means and ability to respond with strength and reach those struggling in our theater community as well as in communities across the nation in the hope that a brighter tomorrow belongs to us all,” Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Executive Director Tom Viola said.
In his will, Ebb, whose Tony Award-winning collaborations with John Kander created 14 musicals, declared that royalties earned on his beloved works would be distributed each year to Broadway Cares through the Fred Ebb Foundation. With an initial donation of $300,000 in 2005, his contributions have continued to grow exponentially, breaking Broadway Cares donation records along the way.
“The pandemic has limited the foundation’s income because the theaters were dark,” Bernard said. “But for the same reason, this is a time of enormous need within the theater community with so many people unable for so long to work and keep insurance, even as their medical and other needs increased. That makes me especially glad to make this contribution from the Ebb Foundation.”
It isn’t lost on Viola how many people will be helped as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on.
“That Fred’s legacy – this astounding gift – comes to Broadway Cares in the midst of this most critical moment is extraordinarily moving,” Viola said. “It deeply underscores something we’ve said for a long time: what we do together makes a difference.”
To celebrate the Fred Ebb Foundation’s historic donation and to honor the dynamic Kander and Ebb team, the current cast of Broadway’s Chicago created a special video of “Hot Honey Rag” featuring onstage and backstage company members, clips of iconic Chicago performers and a tribute to iconic dancer Ann Reinking, who died in 2020.
Ebb, through his foundation, has now shared $24.8 million with Broadway Cares since the first gift in 2005.
In addition, the foundation helps artists and musicians strive for greatness through the Fred Ebb Award, given annually to an aspiring songwriter or songwriting team that shows true excellence and potential. In 2021, the award of $60,000 was given to the team of Isabella Dawis and Tidtaya Sinutoke.
Through the foundation, Ebb continues to support the theater community during one of its most challenging times, echoing the support he provided in his lifetime through his ingenious body of work and his stalwart support for Broadway Cares.
Viola recalled Ebb’s fitting lyrics from The Rink: “Long as I know you’re trying. Long as I know you care. Long as we stick together. We’ll take on anything, anytime, anywhere.'”