Denver Actor Fund Emergency Artist Relief helps theater amid coronavirus

The Denver Actors Fund on Tuesday announced a $35,000 emergency relief fund for Colorado theater artists who have been hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. By Wednesday, the fund had grown to $50,000, including new donations.

Immediate, one-time stipends of $250 each will be paid to about 200 qualified Colorado theater artists, said Denver Actors Fund co-founder John Moore.

“(There were) about $4,000 in donations in the first two hours,” Moore said, adding later that the first 24 hours saw 90 applications. “I hope that keeps going up.”

While the amount represents only a small portion of the money lost from dozens of shuttered productions in the metro area — from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to Curious Theatre Company — it’s another sign of the growing financial support for the state’s most vulnerable nonprofits arts companies.

“We have created this temporary fund in recognition of the unprecedented economic hardship theater professionals are facing all across Colorado as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” president Chris Gibley said in a press statement. “We all have a part to play in helping us to get through this, and our role is to provide some modest relief to those who have lost their income. We’re all in this together.”

The DAF Emergency Artist Relief (DEAR), as the fund is called, was seeded by $25,000 from The Denver Actors Fund’s reserve, as well as a personal donation of $10,000 from Janice Sinden, CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

“The life of this temporary fund will be extended by additional donations that are being accepted” at, the statement added.

Here is who’s eligible:

  • Colorado theater artists who had been retained in a paid capacity to work on or off stage on an upcoming legitimate theater production that has been canceled or postponed as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Paid theater teaching artists whose classes have been canceled as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • Full- or part-time employees of Colorado theater companies in paid, “theater-adjacent” positions such as ticketing or administration who have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours cut back.

Qualified applicants must not also be presently working in a continuing full-time job of any kind, organizers said. Applications will be considered immediately, and in order of receipt. Stipends will be processed for as long as there are DEAR funds to distribute.

The government-ordered shutdown of the entire theater community has affected hundreds of working artists by removing their only means of income, whether it’s a job in the creative arts or a side job in the hospitality industry, fund co-founder Moore said in the statement.

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“That double-whammy has left most of them with no source of income for the immediate future, including unemployment insurance,” wrote Moore, a former Denver Post theater critic who now works for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “As the severity of this crisis became plain, we knew The Denver Actors Fund had to step into the void and do our part to help as many of them as we can.”

The Denver Actors Fund was founded in 2013 by Moore and attorney Christopher Boeckx to provide for actors in their times of need, including help with medical expenses, meals, supplies and general financial support. It has so far distributed $480,000 in direct medical and dental aid to Colorado theater artists, “in addition to practical and neighborly services through a vast network of volunteers,” according to the statement.

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