Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
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|Predecessor||Equity Fights AIDS (formed October 1987)|
Broadway Cares (formed February 1988)
|Formation||May 1992 (merger of Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS)|
|Headquarters||165 West 46th Street, #1300|
Manhattan, New York City New York 10036
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is an American nonprofit organization, headquartered in New York City. It is the theatre community's response to the AIDS crisis. The organization raises funds for AIDS-related causes across the United States. As of 2016[update], it has raised over $285 million for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses since its founding in 1988.
Every year BC/EFA holds two different fundraisers: The Easter Bonnet Competition in the spring and The Gypsy of the Year Competition in the fall.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS was originally two separate organizations. In October 1987, the Council of Actors' Equity Association founded Equity Fights AIDS, and in February 1988, The Producers' Group founded Broadway Cares, both in response to the growing AIDS epidemic. The groups merged in May of 1992, to form Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The new organization was established as a not-for-profit fundraiser and took on the missions of the previous organizations.
The organization's grant-making has two emphases. The first is Actors' Fund of America. BC/EFA supports five major social service programs at The Fund, each of which provides direct assistance to entertainment industry professionals and performing artists who are dealing with a variety of problems, including AIDS, HIV, and HIV-related issues. These seven social service programs are the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Actors Health Insurance Resource Center, the Actors Fund Work Program, the Stage Managers' Project and The Dancers' Resource. Since 1988, Broadway Cares has given $73 million to The Actors Fund.
The second major grant-making effort is the National Grants Program, through which the organization makes grants twice a year to more than 450 community-based AIDS Service organizations across the country in all 50 states. These grants total more than $10 million annually. Since 1988, more than $82 million has been given by BC/EFA to AIDS and family service organizations.
These ASOs include:
- Lifelong AIDS Alliance
- Navajo AIDS Network
- Project Open Hand
- San Francisco AIDS Foundation
- AIDS Foundation Houston
- AIDS Foundation of Chicago
- Center for HIV Law and Policy
- Treatment Action Group
- San Antonio AIDS Foundation
- Mama's Kitchen
- Special Delivery San Diego
- RAIN Charlotte
- RAIN Oklahoma City
- Equitas Health
Broadway Cares has two major fundraising periods, The Easter Bonnet Competition (in the spring) and The Gypsy of the Year Competition (in the Fall). Over six weeks of fund-raising shows on and Off-Broadway engage in a friendly competition to see which show can raise the most money for BC/EFA. Awards are presented to the shows raising the most money and to the winning presentation.
During this fundraising period, actors return to the stage after bows and ask patrons to donate as they leave the theater. Some actors have objected to this, because they oppose asking patrons for more money, or because they do not wish to break character. The shows are in competition to raise funds, and use various approaches, such as auctioning signed memorabilia, to raise more than other shows.
Broadway Bares is an annual burlesque show fundraiser for the organization, founded by Jerry Mitchell in 1992. Broadway dancers and actors perform striptease dances for the audience at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City for two shows only in June.
The 26th edition, On Demand raised over $1.4 million. Participants included Lesli Margherita, Michael Longoria, Billy Porter, Christopher Sieber, Frankie J. Grande, Daniel Dae Kim, Frank DiLella, Roma Torre and more than 150 dancers. To date, Broadway Bares has raised more than $15 million.
"Broadway Bears" was a charity auction for BC/EFA in which teddy bears representing memorable characters from plays and musicals were auctioned to the highest bidder. The auctions raised $2,048,427 from 1998-2012, when the last of the 643 bears was auctioned off. Each teddy bear is outfitted in an original, handmade costume by Broadway's leading costume designers and many are signed by stars who have portrayed the roles represented or the creative teams behind the productions. For example, these bears included Anything Goes, signed by Sutton Foster; Billy Elliot: The Musical, signed by Sir Elton John and Gregory Jbara; and Follies, signed by Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines and Stephen Sondheim.
Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction
Another major event that Broadway Cares sponsors is the Annual Flea Market and Grand Auction in Shubert Alley each September. The theatre community sells props, costumes and autographed memorabilia to raise money for Broadway Cares. The second part of the day features a live auction where bidders can win anything from a walk-on in a Broadway show, to lunch with a star, to a visit to the set of their favorite TV show. The event raised more than $12.6 million in its 30-year history.
In 2016, the 30th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction raised a record $782,081 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Flea Market took place in Shubert Alley and West 44th and 45th Streets west of Times Square in Manhattan. Shows raising the most money were Hamilton, Wicked, School of Rock - The Musical and The Color Purple. Celebrities who attended include Jenna Ushkowitz, Melanie Moore, Victoria Justice, Ben Platt and Andy Mientus.
In 2017, the 31st the 31st Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction raised over one million dollars, $1,023,309 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  The Flea Market took place in Shubert Alley and West 44th and 45th Streets west of Times Square in Manhattan. Shows raising the most money were Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen. Celebrities who attended include Christy Altomare, Reed Birney, Stephanie J. Block, Laura Dreyfuss, Kimiko Glenn, Ann Harada, Rachel Bay Jones, Derek Klena], Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Lindsay Mendez, Javier Munoz, Laura Osnes, Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Will Roland, and Betsy Wolfe.
Bucks County Cabaret
This yearly event is an intimate one-night only concert nestled in the heart of Bucks County. The event is held at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA. It started in 2012, starring Bebe Neuwirth and Malcolm Gets. In 2013, Alan Cumming headlined the event which raised $165,750. In 2014, Linda Eder performed on and raised $131,650 for BC/EFA. In 2015, Lillias White was the event's headliner.
Gypsy of the Year
Every autumn (usually around the end of October till the first week of December), Broadway Cares fundraises in the theatres in NYC and through the national tours. At the end of the six weeks, the shows perform skits showcasing the talents of Broadway's "gypsies" (chorus members). Actors' Equity Association's Gypsy Robe is also featured in this performance.
The 2013 Gypsy of the Year competition was held on December 9 and 10 at the Minskoff Theatre. Best Presentation was awarded to The Lion King for the second year in a row while Kinky Boots was celebrated as the top fundraiser, bringing in $377,301. The 25th Annual event raised over $4,000,000.
The 2014 Gypsy of Year competition was held on December 8 and 9 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Best presentation was awarded to The Lion King for the third year in a row, while The River took the title as top fundraiser, having raised $549,725. It was followed by It's Only a Play. The event, which featured Hugh Jackman, Judith Light, Nathan Lane, and a 40th Anniversary Celebration of The Wiz, raised $5,229,611.
The 27th edition of December 7 and 8, 2015 raised $4,786,239. The largest fundraiser was the "Latter Day" tour of The Book of Mormon with $344,643. The Lion King won best presentation. Wayne Brady, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson performed a freestyle rap. and the cast of Hamilton performed "Wait for It."
The 28th edition on December 5 and 6, 2016 raised $4,492,636 for Broadway Cares.  Celebrities who appeared onstage included Cynthia Erivo, Jessie Mueller and Javier Munoz. The cast of Jersey Boys raised the most money, followed by Hamilton and the national tour of Wicked.
The 29th edition on December 4 and 5, 2017, raised $5,609,211 for Broadway Cares.  The largest fundraiser was Dear Evan Hansen followed by Hello, Dolly! and the Angelica tour of Hamilton. The company of Come From Away took top honors for best onstage presentation, and the runner-up was Aladdin. Celebrity appearances included Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Noah Galvin, and Laura Benanti.
Over $76 million has been raised through Gypsy of the Year.
Broadway Backwards is a yearly event that benefits Broadway Cares and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. The first performance was in 2006. The benefit puts a twist on male and female character songs from Broadway and off-Broadway shows. For example, in 2014, Kyle Dean Massey and Jose Llana performed "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I.
The 2014 benefit was held at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on March 24. Raising $423,182, it was the most successful Broadway Backwards to date, surpassing 2013's record-breaking $347,060 raised at the Palace Theatre. The 2014 benefit was hosted by Julie White and Bebe Wood and included performances by Jonathan Groff, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Beth Leavel, Norm Lewis, Billy Porter, and Andrew Rannells.
On March 9, 2015, the 10th anniversary event raised $466,717. It featured an all-male twist on "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. It was hosted by Rob McClure and Julie Halston, and featured performances by Tituss Burgess, Florence Henderson, Telly Leung and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Easter Bonnet is an annual spring fundraiser in the theatre community, produced by and benefiting Broadway Cares. For six weeks, shows fundraise in their theatres, whether they're on Broadway, Off-Broadway, or touring. Volunteers and cast members hold red buckets after each performance and collect donations. Some shows sell autographed Playbills, posters, and props. Other shows offer auctions to meet the cast backstage or win an autographed prop. At the end of the six weeks, each show is invited to participate in the two-day Easter Bonnet competition. During this competition, performers from participating shows sing and dance while wearing their shows' unique "Easter Bonnets". Guest judges then choose award recipients for best bonnet design and performance.
The 2015 judges at the 29th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition were Actors Fund of America President and CEO Joseph Benincasa, Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn from Fun Home, Corey Cott and Vanessa Hudgens from Gigi, Robert Fairchild and director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon from An American in Paris, Judith Ivey and Rufus Wright from The Audience, and Nathaniel Parker from Wolf Hall Parts One & Two. Two additional judges, Jake Perlman and Peg Wendlandt, were high bidders at the 28th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction. The company of Avenue Q won the 2015 Best Presentation Award, and the company of Jersey Boys won the 2015 Best Design Award for their bonnet.
The 2014 judges at the 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition were Gregg Barnes, Christopher Hanke, Carly Rae Jepsen, Michael McKean, Jim Norton, Patrick Page, Annie Potts, Anthony Rapp, and two judges who won their spot on the panel through an auction at the 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction. The judges selected The Lion King for best presentation and Once for best bonnet design.
On April 25 and 26, 2016, the 30th Annual event raised $5,528,568. Broadway's Hamilton raised the most money of any show ($516,029). An American in Paris won the Best Bonnet Design award. Performers included Stevie Nicks, Jennifer Hudson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and the cast of Hamilton performing the opening number of Sweeney Todd.
On April 24 and 25, 2017, the 31st Annual event raised $6,379,572. Sunset Boulevard raised the most money, followed by Sunday in the Park with George and Dear Evan Hansen. Celebrities included Patti LuPone, Bette Midler, Josh Groban and Ben Platt. 
The 32nd Annual edition was held April 23 and 24, 2018. Celebrity presenters included Bernadette Peters, Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield. The show included performances by the casts of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton. Hamilton raised the most money of any show and a tour of Hamilton raised the most money of any tour.
Since its creation in 1987, the Easter Bonnet Competition has raised $68.8 million for BC/EFA.
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- Robert Viagas (9 December 2015). "Hamilton Stars Give Kinky Boots a Gypsy of the Year Edge – $4.79 Million Raised for BC/EFA | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
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- broadwaycares.org, the organization's official website
- 'Focus on BC/EFA' by Here! Network
- Online Fundraising Team for BC/EFA Hosts Live Event - article about Second Life fundraising team on BroadwayWorld.com