$65,000 seed money includes record donation from Bonnie Cashin Foundation

The Denver Actors Fund Nov. 6 announced a new emergency COVID relief fund – with a fun, humanitarian twist. The $65,000 KINDNESS Fund will provide immediate and recurring financial assistance to qualified Colorado theatre artists whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic … when they perform a basic act of kindness. Applications are being taken here.

The DEAR Fund will be seeded by $25,000 from The Denver Actors Fund’s reserve; a $10,000 donation from retiring Cherry Creek Theater Co-Founders Mark and Maxine Rossman; and the largest single donation in Denver Actors Fund history: A $30,000 gift from the Bonnie Cashin Foundation. The life of this temporary new fund will be extended by any additional donations, which are being accepted here.

Qualifying Colorado theatre artists will receive $100 monthly stipends to help defray basic living expenses. But, in an acknowledgement that we live in a time when all our spirits need lifting, Denver Actors Fund Founder and longtime local arts journalist John Moore thought to add an altruistic wrinkle: Why not ask recipients to do a good deed in turn that might encourage others to pay that kindness forward? An acceptable act of kindness will be defined as a good deed, an offer of help or specialized assistance to someone who needs but is not expecting it. Two conditions: These acts of kindness must be socially distanced and not involve money.

“Being kind to others brings out the best in all of us,” said Chris Gibley, President of The Denver Actors Fund’s Board of Directors. “We encourage members of our Colorado theatre community to spread creative kindness through their actions and help make this world a better place to live. And we’ve started The DAF KINDNESS Fund to both support and reward those who do.”

The Denver Actors Fund is an all-volunteer nonprofit that has made more than $660,000 available to Colorado theatre artists since 2013. In April, The DAF expanded its founding medical mission to provide more than $100,000 to theatre artists who lost income from plays and musicals canceled by the COVID shutdown.

That work helped inspire the Bonnie Cashin Foundation to contribute $30,000 to The Denver Actors Fund’s continuing efforts to help Colorado theatre artists. Cashin was a noted fashion designer and Hollywood costumer who died in 1970. Some fashion scholars credit Cashin with inventing American sportswear.

“Bonnie changed the face of 20th century American fashion, but in fact she was a free spirit who was fascinated by creativity of all kinds,” said Lucia Kellar, Trustee of The Bonnie Cashin Foundation. “She left her estate to support such creativity, and I think she would have been very pleased to know that she was providing help, through The Denver Actors Fund’s new Kindness Fund, to those in the acting community who are experiencing hardship in these difficult times. It’s a great idea.”

Mark and Maxine Rossman, who founded the Cherry Creek Theater in 2010 and announced their retirement in July, also wanted to be part of The DAF’s next round of COVID relief.

“We enjoy the arts, and we particularly appreciate the many sacrifices that actors, musicians, artists and dancers make in order to practice their calling and bring joy to the hearts of countless lovers of the arts,” the Rossmans said in a joint statement. “As a service to the community, we do what we can to assure that the quality of the arts in Denver, particularly in the theatre, remains high. The mission of The Denver Actors Fund is congruent with our personal mission, and we are proud to support this wonderful organization.”

To qualify for a KINDNESS Fund stipend, a Colorado theatre artist must have worked on the making of a play or musical in Colorado since January 1, 2019. Artists working in some theater-adjacent positions, such as Teaching Artists, may also quality.  Qualifying artists must not have averaged more than $3,000 in income over the previous three months. And they must demonstrate to have done one simple, socially distanced, non-remunerative act of kindness within the previous seven days of application.

Applications will be accepted and considered immediately, in order of receipt. Monthly stipends will be processed for as long as there is need – or there are KINDNESS funds to distribute.