The non-profit also added five new members to its board, including SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Shubert Organization Chief Operating Officer Elliot Greene, Broadway producer and philanthropist Sharon Karmazin, Tyler Perry, and Actors' Equity Association Executive Director Alvin Vincent, Jr.
"We’re thrilled to welcome Duncan, Elliot, Sharon, Tyler, and Alvin as the first people joining our Board under our new name of the Entertainment Community Fund,” says Fund President and CEO Joseph Benincasa in a statement. "And with Stokes re-elected to lead as Chair, the life-changing work we’ve done for 140 years will continue to help the performing arts and entertainment community."
The Board also created the Medal of Distinction, a new award to recognize people in the performing arts and entertainment industries who have devoted their lives to helping their community. The inaugural winners of the honor are stage and television director and producer John Bowab and stage manager and producer Marty Wiviott. Bowab and Wiviott worked together to co-produce a series of lobby concerts at California's Pantages Theater.
Founded by Albert Marshman Palmer in 1882, the Fund was originally organized to "foster and benefit the physical, as well as advance the intellectual, welfare of the actors of America." Since the dawn of the 20th century, the Fund has provided millions of dollars of assistance to creatives and their families, including burial plots and end-of-life care at Lillian Booth Actors Home of The Actors Fund, an assisted living facility established in 1912.
While the Fund has been an indispensable resource for over a century, it leapt to action in 2020 and 2021 to support community members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund has distributed more than $26.8 million dollars since March 2020 to more than 17,900 people through emergency financial assistance.