Were you sipping champagne Sunday night watching the 74th Tony Awards and its subsequent special Broadway’s Back? After I figured out what the heck was happening with the Broadcast (only the second part was on CBS), “Un-Block The Music” was screaming with delight! And…when I watched Lin Manuel Miranda rap along with the cast of his show Freestyle Love Supreme during the finale, I knew it was time to talk about his fundraiser with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. If you don’t know about it…hurry up, read this and donate $5 to Broadway Cares for your chance to win a trip to see Hamilton anywhere in the world!
If you are not aware of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, they are an organization that started up in 1988 initially to raise money for people with HIV/AIDS. They go way beyond that now, but more on that later. You should know however, that they have raised $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC.
A few weeks ago, Lin-Manuel announced his initiative with Prizeo, an online sweepstakes company. When you donate $5, you’ll be entered to win a trip for you and a friend. “You pick the location, and we will cover the rest. I’ll also make sure you take home autographed memorabilia to commemorate this amazing trip.”
Grand Prize Winners officially get:
- Two (2) tickets to see HAMILTON anywhere you want in the world
- Lin-Manuel Miranda will personally congratulate you via Zoom
- Autographed HAMILTON memorabilia
- Roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations for you and a guest
(New York Marriott Marquis and JetBlue will be providing air travel and hotel accommodations. )
Lin-Manuel also announced a sweepstakes within a sweepstakes. “You will also be entered to win some additional experiences through our Flashstakes happening every Tuesday. Someone won a tour of New York’s Washington Heights with Lin-Manuels’s parents. Perhaps you will win a ticket to the re-opening night of Freestyle Love Supreme, October 7. Read details on the site.
“Un-Block The Music” was made aware of this initiative by Sally Rosenberg of Ladybug Productions. You may remember the article I wrote a while back profiling Sally and her show Invincible. At any rate Sally sent me an email that she is on the Broadway Cares Leadership Council.
Danny Whitman, director of development at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS took some time on the phone with me to talk about this program. “Lin-Manuel is one of the most philanthropic artists. He is a compassionate human being who gives so much. For some, it would be a challenge when your career is exploding with opportunity. He continues to prioritize philanthropy, when he could easily not. The money raised here goes straight to the charity. Lin-Manuel takes nothing.” By using his celebrity to galvanize, Lin-Manuel has gotten the attention of those who may not have contributed in the past.
In addition to having a chance to win a trip to see Hamilton, when you donate you are automatically entered into the weekly surprise Flashstakes. And when you donate at levels higher than $5 you have more chances to win and also can receive added perks like a signed Hamilton Playbill or Broadway merchandise.
This initiative will continue through October. So far, Danny said, there have been over 32,000 donors with over half a million dollars raised. Contributions have come from 80 different countries.
As for Sally, as a leader on the Council, she is helping to augment fundraising, which according to Danny, “increases the impact of our work.“ Sally joined within the last five months and is already an incredibly active member…and was able to forge the introduction that brought Jet Blue on as a major partner.
Danny said it is also important to remind people that although great strides have been made in HIV/AIDS and people are now able to live full lives, “there is still a great divide. Three out of four Americans affected by HIV are at or below the poverty line with lack of access to adequate health care.” Some 450 health clinics and foodbanks in all 50 states are funded by Broadway Cares to help people affected by HI/AIDS as well as many other illnesses and other socioeconomic problems like food insecurity. Some of those clinics are big, but others are in back of community centers. ALL very important, said Danny.
HOWEVER, “half of what we do and so importantly right now is aimed at helping people in theater and entertainment industries because of this unprecedented shutdown.” Money for food and rent is going to people, who thought they would never need it.
On a personal note, Broadway Cares holds a special place in my heart. I lost a dear friend back in the 1980s when people with AIDS were ostracized from society. His name was George Pesaturo, and he played Paul in the original run of A Chorus Line. As readers of my blog, you know I have a daughter in theater and we have often felt George is her theater guardian angel. (We have many stories to tell!!) At any rate, my daughter had to give up her NYC apartment just as her career was starting to show signs of taking off. So for George and for my daughter Holly, I make a personal plea for donation.
And for more about Sally, check out “Un-Block The Music’s story:
Sally says there are new announcements to come shortly about where Invincible is in the process of getting the musical to the stage. So keep a watch for that. And good luck in the sweepstakes!