Photo Flash: The Actors Fund Launches Performing Arts Legacy Project

In partnership with The Research Center for Arts and Culture, The Actors Fund held a launch event for the Performing Arts Legacy Project (PAL) website yesterday at Actors' Equity in New York City. This new online platform is designed to document and represent older performers' careers. Visitors to the website, at performingartslegacy.org, can now explore a national legacy of performing arts and entertainment professionals' work and older performers can begin the creative journey of documenting their performing careers.

Attendees received a demonstration of the website from Joan Jeffri, Founder and Director of The Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC), an affiliate organization of The Actors Fund, as well as performances and testimonials on their experience of documenting their careers on the PAL site from actor, director, choreographer, educator and Tony Award-nominated star of the Broadway musical Hadestown André De Shields, and the original Sweeney Todd and co-star of Murder, She Wrote, Tony Award-winner Len Cariou

"Today's launch is an invitation to our community to visit the site and to tell your friends and colleagues in the industry that they can now begin to document their important contributions to performance and history," said President of Actors' Equity and Actors Fund Trustee Kate Shindle.

"The Performing Arts Legacy Project provides an important addition to existing archives by digging deeper into the histories and memories of those workers on whom the industry was built," said Joan Jeffri, Director of The Research Center for Arts and Culture. "It recognizes these performers' lives and careers with dignity. And, it helps identify, empathize with and celebrate aging."

"There is now an online space where performers can present their lifetime careers holistically and under their control," said Traci DiGesu, Manager of Activities and Volunteer Programs at The Actors Fund. "We're thrilled to add this website to the suite of social services we provide to seniors who have devoted their lives to entertainment and the performing arts."

The website was developed in conjunction with a cohort of ten actors aged 62+ through The Actors Fund. The pilot group of Founding Performers was drawn from New York City artists with a broad range of experience. Trainers, students and volunteers worked on this inter-generational project to create career timelines, oral histories, video and audio life reviews, collecting memorabilia and capturing experience in order to preserve this rich national heritage. The original ten Founding Performers include: Michael David Arian, George Bartenieff, Vinie Burrows, Len Cariou, André De Shields, Susan Lehman, Agosto Machado, Richard Masur, Gilda Mirósand Virginia Wing.

The digital legacies already assembled on the website will act as a model for other performers who want to contribute their own legacies to this growing online archive. The website includes a community engagement guide to assist institutions, theaters, senior centers and other communities in creating teams of professional performers age 62+ and fellows from a variety of generations to work together to create a deep representation of individual careers in the performing arts.

In addition, as more performers review and document their lives and careers, The Actors Fund will continue to be instrumental in supporting life-related needs for seniors in entertainment and the performing arts through their core programs and services including: social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and secondary employment and training services.

Photo Credit: Jay Brady Photography



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