On June 9, the SAG-AFTRA Colorado Local co-sponsored a Tony Awards viewing party. The event was part of a benefit to raise donations for the Denver Actors Fund, a local nonprofit that provides aid to members of the arts community in need. The public event, which raised $1,000 and offered attendees refreshments, prizes and swag, embodied the spirit of camaraderie among Denver performing artists. The following is the story of the benefit’s inception from an event organizer’s point of view.
In 2017, my 12-year-old boy and I had parked our vehicle on the side of the highway when we were struck from behind by a semi-truck traveling at 70 mph. What followed afterwards was months of painful rehabilitation and slow healing. A key part of our recovery was enthusiastically provided by the Denver Actors Fund, a local organization created by arts journalist John Moore. As I struggled to piece my life back together, the Fund helped me with medical costs, meals and onsite aid.
As the Denver Actors Fund survives entirely by donations, I got the idea to create a fundraiser event for the organization. As a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, I had previously helped to organize a Tony Awards viewing party in San Diego, one of many that take place around the country, and thought that it might be a unique opportunity to bring the local performing arts community together while supporting a very worthy cause. I approached C. Clayton Blackwell, a fellow member and the chairman of the AEA’s Denver-Area Liaison Committee, and with his and John’s help, we began to work on the idea. Soon after, we had the Cap City Tavern as a venue, and an event date.
As a longtime member of SAG-AFTRA and a Colorado Theatre Guild Board member, I thought that this was also an opportunity to expand the scope of the event and build a bridge between the two organizations. I approached the Local Board president, Sheila Ivy Traister, and the Guild Board, and both were highly enthusiastic and supportive of the concept. Together, we were able to create a unique event that would appeal to a large-cross section of the Denver performing arts community.
Photo: Members of the SAG-AFTRA Colorado Local and family at the Tony Awards Viewing Party on June 9. The viewing party was a benefit held to raise funds for the Denver Actors Fund, a local non-profit that provides financial, medical and emotional aid to performing artists in need.
I am deeply grateful for SAG-AFTRA’s help and the confident energy of Sheila and T. David Rutherford, whose efforts added a wonderfully creative element to the event.
— By Abner Genece, SAG-AFTRA Colorado Local member, for the Colorado newsletter.
All photos by Michael Ensminger