The crazed shopping season between Thanksgiving and December 25 is in full swing. But as you prepare individual items to gift the special someones in your life (and capitalize on Cyber Monday deals), the occasion also marks a time to give to organizations that support causes about which you’re passionate. From foundations that support writers creating new theatrical works to charities that assist everyone in entertainment, from arts education programs to groups endorsed by Broadway’s best, here are 22 theatre-related charities worthy of your generosity:
FUND MULTIPLE INITIATIVES IN ONE DONATION
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
One of the best known charities in the theatre community, in 2018 BC/EFA distributed over $13 million in grant-making for causes like the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts, addiction and recovery services, The Dancer’s Resource, the Actors Fund Work Program, food services and meal delivery programs, emergency aid, and more. The organization advocates for those suffering from HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the world through financial contributions, dissemination of educational materials, and encouraging awareness and public support. Through its two largest fundraising campaigns in the fall and spring (which culminate in the Red Bucket Follies and the Easter Bonnet), events like Broadway Bares, Broadway Bakes, and the Broadway Flea Market, and more, BC/EFA and their consistent commitment to raising awareness and funds renders them a leader in the giving spirit of the Broadway community. Click here to donate.
Since 1968, TDF (formerly known as the Theatre Development Fund) has been committed to making theatre accessible for everyone and sustaining and preserving theatre. In its first year, with money from the Rockefeller Foundation, TDF bought tickets to the play The Great White Hope and gave them away for free to cultivate new audiences. By 1970, this had evolved to the TKTS Booth we all know and love in Duffy Square at the heart of the Theatre District in Midtown Manhattan. Through the Booth and TDF membership, patrons can access inexpensive tickets (from $9–$49) to shows in advance. But over the past five decades, TDF has been about more than just ticketing. Through TDF Accessibility Programs, they have pushed theatres to be physically accessible for patrons with physical differences. They are the organization behind autism-friendly performances, open-caption performances, ASL-interpreted performances, and more. The TDF Costume Collection offers affordable rentals for productions at every level. Through the Wendy Wasserstein Project, TDF welcomes students to the theatre, and, with Create New York, TDF reaches artistically underserved communities to bring them to the theatre and guide groups to discuss what they see and bring it back to their neighborhoods. Read more about all of TDF’s programs here and click here to donate.
Support a non-profit theatre company.
Make a donation to a non-profit theatre company—whether it produces work for Broadway, Off-Broadway, or your own community. Roundabout Theatre Company, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Second Stage all produce for Broadway and Off-Broadway; MCC Theater, the Public Theater, Ars Nova, and Signature Theatre are all notable Off-Broadway producers. But the list of theatres and theatre companies in New York and around the country is seemingly endless. Find a theatre that aligns with artists you enjoy and work you feel is important, go to their website, and send that check!
The Actors Fund
This organization provides a “safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan”—and some services even extend to their family members. Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund has served artists in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio, and dance for over 100 years. From counseling and social services to emergency financial aid, from employment training for “survival jobs” or a career transition to healthcare and health insurance provision, from affordable housing to The Actors Fund Home assisted living and nursing care facility, from homecare to money management education to parenting resources for families with youth performers, The Actors Fund covers it all. Click here to donate.
The Lilly Awards
Founded in 2010, The Lilly Awards are named for playwright Lillian Hellman. The organization, according to its mission statement, is “dedicated to developing and celebrating women artists by promoting gender parity at all levels of theatrical production.” The annual Awards ceremony recognizes contributions by women in the industry—as well as one Mr. Lilly—and serves as a fundraiser for their work. By partnering with the Dramatist Guild, The Lillys have been able to fund The Count, an ongoing study that tracks and showcases the work by women in the American theatre. The Lillys partner with SPACE at Ryder Farm to offer a unique Family Residency for female playwrights and their children, so these writers need not choose between family time in the summer or productive creative retreats. The organization also plans to erect a statue of Lorraine Hansberry in New York City. Click here to donate.
SUPPORT NEW WORK
American Theatre Wing
The organization that administers the annual Tony Awards and Obie Awards invests in new work and honors theatrical excellence, specifically geared towards bringing diverse stories and enriching American culture through theatre. Through financial initiatives, educational outreach, grants for writers, scholarships for professionals, and content creation that builds the profile of theatre on a national level, the Wing ensures the future of stagecraft. Click here to donate.
Dramatists Guild Foundation
For over 50 years, the Dramatists Guild Foundation has supported playwrights, composers, lyricists, and book writers to, in turn, support the creation of new work for the American theatre. Through Traveling Masters, DGF provides free writing classes and workshops around the country; through Fellows, up-and-coming writers gain professional experience and forge relationships with seasoned mentors; the Music Hall provides free space and equipment for writing; and grants fund writers and their projects. participants of the Foundation's many programs include Tony and Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Tony winner Jason Robert Brown, Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel, and many more. Click here to donate.
Best known for its annual Drama League Awards, the organization offers benefits to audiences and artists. Through ticket discounts, education programs, and more, the Drama League works to fortify audience experience; through fellowships, artistic residencies, the Summer Professional Theater Intensive, and more, the League bolsters creators. Click here to donate.
For play lovers out there, New Dramatists specifically supports playwrights. The nationally renowned Playwrights’ Lab provides resident playwrights with writing resources and the opportunity to host a reading of their work—a crucial step in the development of a new play—with a director, stage manager, and professional actors at no cost. All four 2017 Tony nominees for Best Play are alumni of New Dramatists and the current and “graduate” playwrights of the coalition have won 19 Pulitzers, 21 Tonys, 76 Obies, 17 Drama Desks, 13 Blackburn Awards, and six MacArthur Fellowships. Click here to donate.
The Broadway League Foundation
The charitable arm of The Broadway League (the national trade association for Broadway), this foundation serves the theatergoing public. The foundation aims to increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of theatre and to provide a forum for conversation about the preservation and promotion of live theatre. With Family First Nights, the Foundation helps economically at-risk families attend Broadway together, and with the National High School Musical Theatre Awards they emphasize the importance of theatre education in schools. The League Foundation also sponsors benefit concerts and events to raise money and awareness for initiatives like Viva Broadway, the Actors Fund, and more. Click here to donate.
ADVOCATE FOR THEATRE AND ARTS EDUCATION
This past year, the League launched Broadway Bridges, a program that works with the NYC Department of Education to make seeing a Broadway show a part of the tenth-grade experience. Participating producers offer $20 tickets to their shows and the Broadway League purchases thousands of these tickets to offer to schools for half that price. A donation of as little as $10 can send one student to a show—$300 sends and entire class to experience a Broadway show! Click here to donate.
The non-profit theatre company brings over 40,000 New York City students to performances and workshops to expose them to the arts, as well as their Creating The Magic series, which brings youth to Broadway theatres to learn about the multitude of professions on Broadway—from tech to costumes to acting onstage—in hopes of inspiring the next generation of artists. Up next, Broadway’s Beetlejuice will welcome over 2,000 students on December 12 to witness special demonstrations and musical performances as the cast and crew speak about the different careers in theatre. Click here to donate.
Rosie’s Theater Kids
The mantra of the theatre education program founded by Rosie O’Donnell is “We’re rehearsing for life.” Supported by the New York State Council on the Arts, Rosie’s Theatre Kids was founded in 2003 and impacts students in three in-school phases to expose students to the performing arts, with additional tutoring resources, summer intensives, the Spotlight on Fitness, and more. Provided at no fee or at a large subsidy, RTKids is committed to serving children of all backgrounds. Click here to donate.
52nd Street Project
A community-based arts organization, the Project pairs kids age 10 and up with theatre professionals to create original work that is then presented to the public. Through poetry, photography, design, dance, stage combat, filmmaking, and theatre, the Project uses the arts to enhance life skills and learning. Click here to donate.
Anthony Quinn Foundation
Named for the visual artist and actor, the scholarship program sponsors select young adults to pursue their talents in visual arts and design, performance, media and literacy arts. In 2018, Lin-Manuel Miranda was honored with the Anthony Quinn Foundation Award for his impact on the future of the arts. Click here to donate.
Based in New York City and Los Angeles, Story Pirates pairs teachers with performers to convert children’s original stories into sketch comedy musicals. By encouraging self-expression, Story Pirates aims to empower the next generation through the arts. Click here to donate.
Educational Theatre Foundation (EdTA)
The Educational Theatre Association supports students and teachers by recognizing student achievement, providing professional development, equipment, and more to educators, and publicly advocating for the necessity of theatre education. The non-profit also publishes a monthly magazine for high school theatre students, Dramatics, and a quarterly industry publication for educators, Teaching Theatre. EdTA established its philanthropic arm in 201 to, specifically, provide financial support to improve and expand theatre education programs and access to those programs. The Foundation benefits JumpStart Theatre, a program that build sustainable musical theatre programs in underserved middle schools, need-based grants to schools, merit– and need-based grants to individuals to support theatre teachers. Click here to donate.
In 2017, “The Children’s Monologues” at Carnegie Hall brought greater awareness to this international charity. Dramatic Needs provides an artistic outlet to underserved children in South Africa and Rwanda by building arts centers, staffing them, and supplying art-making materials. The charity’s “Children’s Monologues” gives voice to the stories of these children through a one-night-only performance event each year. Click here to donate.
JOIN BROADWAY NAMES IN SUPPORTING
Only Make Believe
Located in New York City and Washington, D.C., Only Make Believe uses theatre to heal and inspire ailing children. The non-profit creates and performs interactive pieces for kids in hospitals and long term care facilities. Earlier this month, the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala honoring founder Dena Hammerstein. Click here to donate.
You Gotta Believe
Supported by Seth Rudetsky and his husband, James Wesley, through their annual Voice for the Voiceless Concert: Stars for Foster Kids, You Gotta Believe is an initiative to find permanent parents for teen and young adult foster youth who may have “aged out” of the system. Click here to donate.
Sing For Your Seniors
Founded by Jackie Vanderbeck, Sing For Your Seniors brings music sessions to elderly residents in long-term care facilities. Averaging 60 performances a year from 150 volunteer singers and 20 volunteer pianists, Sing For Your Seniors has also included sessions by Broadway shows such as Bandstand and Fun Home to bring joy and healing through song. Click here to donate.
The only organization offering crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBTQ people under age 25, The Trevor Project is a network of outreach, counseling, and peer-to-peer social networking for those in need. The Project also provides educational materials to other youth-serving organizations and hosts an advocacy department for pro-LGBTQ laws and to fight anti-LGBTQ philosophy and legislation. Click here to donate.
Since opening their doors in 1972, Covenant House has saved more than 1 million homeless youth. Providing beds, counseling, mentorship, and more, the organization (with houses all across the country) is a safe haven for homeless and trafficked youth. Over the last few years, the Broadway community, led by Capatha Jenkins and Stephanie J. Block, has come together to raise awareness and funds with the Stage & Screen Sleep Out. Click here to donate.