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Grants of up to $5,000 are on offer to theater workers who left New York during the pandemic. The Places Please Project is open to all theater workers — including actors, musicians and designers, as well as technical and admin staff.

Lillias White (left) sheds a tear as she watches We Will Be Back with Peppermint in March 2021. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

The idea for Places Please came when composer Andrew Lippa saw that Beyoncé had offered to give grants of $5,000 to those facing foreclosure or eviction. He tweeted in December last year: “All our theater folk who can help: Call me and let’s organize this for our own community. Who’s in? Let’s keep our artists in their homes so when it’s time to go back to work they can.”

Places Please Project was founded by Lippa, along with writer Kyle Jarrow, actor Lilli Cooper, theater marketer Annie Schiffmann and SongSpace’s Kara Unterberg, to help theater workers returning to New York. “An unprecedented shutdown of the theater industry has left a generation of artists, musicians, designers, technicians and administrators unable to work,” co-founder Jarrow said. “Many have had to leave New York. Many are now struggling to return. We’re honored to join with The Actors Fund to help those in need.”

The grants can be used for a security deposit, a first month’s rent or for moving expenses. To apply, applicants need to show that they left the city during the pandemic and are returning to the theater industry. Documentation is required to prove that they previously lived in New York and had theater income of over $6,500 for three of the past five years. Organizers have promised to give more than just a grant, the applicants will meet with Actors Fund staff to develop a viable plan including how to sublet, assess neighborhoods and deal with real estate brokers.

The Actors Fund president Joe Benincasa said: “Since March of 2020, The Actors Fund has distributed more than $22.3 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 16,600 members of the performing arts and entertainment community. We’ve partnered with more than 20 organizations to support all professions in the entertainment industry, and we’re proud to join with Places Please Project to help theater workers moving back to New York be safe and secure in their futures.”

Places Please Project is continuing to fundraise and currently has a $50,000 donation match program in partnership with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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