‘CARE-oke’ for a cause
TCBF fundraises through song and dance
In the months since Boston withdrew inside to fight COVID-19, the local theater community has taken to the internet to keep spirits high and artists secure. Online performances both livestreamed and archived have kept audiences and performers connected and hopeful. Now, to add to social-distanced entertainment calendars, the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund has launched a new program called CARE-oke to raise funds for affected artists and bring local favorites back into the spotlight.
Local performer Amy Barker brainstormed the fundraiser and brought it to the attention of the TCBF board. “These are tough times for all of us and the theater community has been hit particularly hard. Many theater artists in the Greater Boston area have no means of support and are struggling to make ends meet,” says Barker. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the TCBF has granted over $90,000 in aide, but has raised only $50,000, and requests for assistance are still pouring in.”
Here’s how CARE-oke works. Every Tuesday and Friday a performer shares a short video on the TCBF Facebook page. It could be anything — a song, a monologue, a friendly chat — and then encourages the audience to donate whatever possible. Then that performer nominates another artist. The funds donated go directly to aiding local theater workers who have been impacted by the crisis, typically through loss of work.
According to a cultural impact study conducted by ArtsBoston, arts audiences spend an additional $675 million every year at restaurants, parking facilities and other local businesses when they attend a performance or art event in the Boston area. The industry also creates more than 30,000 jobs. These benefits for the city and cultural workers are at risk without support to get artists through this challenge.
Though CARE-oke is primarily about fundraising for those causes, it also creates the feeling of seeing old friends. In the first CARE-oke performance, Kathy St. George, a Stoneham native and local favorite, sang “For Me and My Gal,” by Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. St. George had all the energy and excitement she exhibits on stage, bringing a bit of normalcy and good humor to the heavy emotional atmosphere of the pandemic. The upside of this karaoke night is that every performer happens to be spectacular.
“We can’t wait to be back in the theaters, our second homes, with you, our families,” says Barker. “But until we are able to do so, let’s have fun and support our friends and colleagues in need.”