KC Cares: Theatre Community Fund of KC
Jake Walker was one of more than 50,000 union workers who lost thousands of dollars of expected income due to gigs lost in 2020—so he reached out to his friends on Facebook to ask for help. Walker shared that “Within a day, my friends stepped up and because of their generosity, I was able to survive till my unemployment kicked in. Then I had a lighthouse moment: there’s a lot of people who didn’t have access to the help I received and I was compelled to pay it forward.”
Walker reached out to his friend, John Moore, who had started the Denver Actors Fund several years ago. Jake had floated the idea of starting a Kansas City Actors Fund several years ago, and now the pandemic made the need even more urgent. After gathering a group of like-minded industry members, Jake brought his idea to life.
In October of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Theatre Community Fund of KC (TCF) was born. The TCF supports all theatre artists, technicians, and supporting staff in times of financial distress or hardship with volunteer support, food bank donations, and direct financial relief. But even as theatres reopen, arts funding will fluctuate, and the work of TCF will continue to be necessary.
So, you want to volunteer? Awesome! One way to pitch in is by stocking donations and putting together care packages at The Unicorn Theatre, which currently houses their food bank. You can also volunteer to deliver food bank packages or request to host a drive in TCF’s name at your business.
As theatre begins to come back and the Jerome stage reopens, TCF is looking for a long-term home for their needs with cold storage, room for a few desks, and an area for a conference room. If you know of a good place, definitely let them know!
And if you’d like to donate directly, TCF’s stock needs vary from week to week depending on deliveries. Most days, they are looking for toiletries, specifically products for textured hair with no sulfates.
As one of their several missions, TCF is investing in the visions of BIPOC artists. The organization is now taking submissions for their generative arts grant, The Theatre Arts Crescendo Award, which aims to empower local BIPOC theatre creators and increase visibility of their work. The board is particularly excited to read original scripts, adapted/reimagined classics, and concept proposals for devised work, all to be blind submitted.
Kansas City is a theatre town and many gifted designers, crew members, stage managers, directors, playwrights, and actors choose to make this their artistic home. Many of them forego opportunities in other cities because of a deep connection and hometown love for KC. TCF is a lightning rod for the generosity that runs through our town. Giving to TCF means an artist can eliminate grocery bills for a month, avoid eviction, or receive assistance with their medical bills.
The most common phrase TCF hears from the food bank’s beneficiaries is “When I’m back on my feet, I’ll be back to donate.” And that happens a lot, creating a circuit of giving and receiving that is now this beautiful little loop of paying it forward. Walker has been overwhelmed with the community response. “The support from the community has been incredible; people were so ready to help. They just needed an organization to guide that help, and once we came along, patrons and community members alike stepped up so fast.”
Want to support our amazing artist friends and be a part of something beautiful in Kansas City? To sign up to volunteer or check their donations needs, swing by their website at theatrefundkc.org and give them a follow on Facebook. You can find more information about the Theatre Arts Crescendo Award through their website, as well as dates for free grant application workshops. And please consider donating through their PayPal at paypal.me/kctheatrefund.