How to Help Arts Workers During an Unprecedented Era of Theatre

Tony Awards   How to Help Arts Workers During an Unprecedented Era of Theatre
Tony Award nominations are in, but industry members need your support as theatres remain dark.
Be An #ArtsHero: Arts Workers Unite
Be An #ArtsHero: Arts Workers Unite Michaelah Reynolds

The Tony nominations were announced today, and while there's plenty to celebrate, the excitement is set against the backdrop of and unprecedented season cut short by a pandemic and increasing uncertainty of the future stability of the industry.

Millions of arts workers face unemployment and scarce opportunities to hone their craft. And with Broadway shutdown scheduled to last until at least June 2021 (and likely longer), theatre fans have the opportunity to step up and help ensure Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, and local theatres are still standing when the time comes for the curtain to rise again.

There are plenty of ways to contribute—dollars, activism, and artistry are all accepted. So check out some first steps below and make a pledge to support the cause as we wait to find out the winners of the 74th annual Tonys later this year.

Civic Engagement
With the election on the horizon (November 3—click here to check your voter registration deadline by state), a number of groups are pushing to elect leaders who have voiced support for the arts.

With a high proportion of arts groups supported by grants and loans, the government is a major player in keeping the sector alive. Be An #ArtsHero has emerged as a leading campaign, calling on congress to release relief aid. The group is focused on passing the DAWN (Defend Arts Workers Now) Act, which would allocate $43.85 billion to the arts and culture sector. To support the cause, you can sign a petition, call your senator, write a letter, or donate. For more information, visit

"The Tony’s this year will be a brightly lit ghost light, giving us a feeling of continuity and resilience, reminding us that the theatres will fill again, the curtains will rise, and some of the most hard working and skilled American workers will be back doing what they do best: making people’s lives worth living and their communities more prosperous," said Carson Elrod, Be An #ArtsHero's director of coalitions, non profit builder and director of strategic relationships. "So please call your senators and representatives and tell them the arts need relief right now."

In addition, Broadway for Biden has been hosting weekly phone banking sessions on Mondays from 7–9 PM ET. The group puts on town halls to discuss important issues voters are talking about and has a live stream benefit concert coming up October 21, with Karen Olivo, Jennifer Hudson, Darren Criss, and more scheduled to perform.

Groups like Drag Out the Vote are joining forces with the Main Stem, too. Chita Rivera, Stephanie J. Block, Lea Salonga, Nikki M. James, Beth Leavel, and Annaleigh Ashford will virtually hang out with RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Nina West and Peppermint (herself a Broadway alum) in Divas for Democracy October 18 for a belting and lip-syncing extravaganza.

READ: Make Them Hear You: Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Fight for Voter Mobilization, Census Completion, More

Black Lives Matter
In June, Playbill released a guide on how we can all support Black people in the fight against policy brutality, systemic racism, and oppression in America. On a micro-level, Black Lives Matter stirred something in the theatre community to change the predominately white institutions that currently serve as gatekeepers. Click here to read our starter guide from earlier this year, which has been updated with a number of Black-run theatre organizations to support.

COVID-19 Relief
Have the funds, but not sure where to donate? Playbill put together a list of organizations in May that artists had highlighted since the start of the shutdown. It’s now been updated with the most current information. No amount is too small.

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