POLICIES AND PROCEDURES GOVERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF
THE EMERGENCY AID & RELIEF PROGRAM
The provision of help to the sick, the needy and indigent members of the theatrical profession of all religious faiths.”
A. Proof of status as a professional performing artist.
To apply to the EAG Emergency Aid & Relief Program, the primary determining criterion for eligibility is that the applicant be a professional performing artist who is pursuing an established and ongoing career in the performing arts. Theatre performers who perform live onstage before a live audience are the primary focus of the program. Professional status is determined by documenting earnings and/or membership in one or more of the following professional performing artists' labor unions: AEA, ACTRA, AGMA, AGVA, SAG, AFTRA.
B. Proof of an ongoing and sustained professional career.
Documentation of a minimum of 5 consecutive years of earnings as a professional performing artist, of which at least 3 years must present annual earnings of at least $5000. If a career of 10 or more cumulative years can be documented, 5 of those years must present earnings of at least $5000. A career of 20 or more cumulative years must present earnings of $5000 or more in 10 of those years. If an individual is disabled or retired, earnings during the final 5 years of a career before retirement or disability may be considered. Performers who are vested and receiving performing arts Union pensions are also eligible.
C. Compelling emergencies and extenuating circumstances.
If compelling emergency circumstances warrant, applications for one-time grants may be considered for members of related theatrical professions, including such professions as playwrights, directors, musicians and educators. Emergency exceptions may also be made for dependents, caregivers, partners and/or family members of qualified disabled or deceased performing artists. Such exceptional grants may not exceed $500 without the approval of 3 members of the Grants Committee.
D. Proven need.
1. Applicants must be in a state of economic need because of extenuating circumstances such as debilitating illness, (including chemical dependency problems); illness or death of a family member or significant other; a sudden increase in expenses or unforeseen drop in income; or, if retired or disabled, an insufficient fixed income from sources such as pensions, social security or disability benefits.
2. For applicants who are in good health, it is expected that efforts have been made to secure supplementary income by employment outside the performing arts professions, and/or of other good faith efforts to plan for and to secure income in support of their circumstances.
3. Applicants with health problems must provide documentation of their medical condition from their health care provider stating the nature of illness, course of treatment and prognosis.
4. Proof of financial need must be documented in the form of invoices, unpaid bills, current printouts of union earnings statements, pay stubs, contracts, bank statements showing depletion of funds, and/or copies of recent Federal income tax returns proving low income and exhaustion of other available resources such as savings accounts, trust funds, real estate equity or available pension plans. For rental arrears, evidence of emergency need, such as eviction notices or court-ordered stipulations must be presented as documentation.
E. Proven lack of other resources:
Applicants must prove that there are no other personal resources or other public welfare agency resources available to them with which to address their presented needs. They must also prove that their needs have not already been substantially met or cannot be met by the relief funds of their parent Union and/or other Unions, by the Actors’ Fund of America, and/or other performing arts charitable organizations.
II. USE OF FUNDS
The Executive Director as administrator of the Aid & Relief Program may approve and disburse individual grants of up to $750.00 to qualified applicants. Three members of the Grants Committee must approve individual grants over $750.00, and if and when cumulative total of EAG assistance to an individual within the current fiscal year has exceeded $750.00. The Executive Director shall also regularly provide the Grants Committee with reports on the distribution of the Program’s funds.
Because performers in the greater New York City area are the primary focus of the Program, an in-person interview with the Executive Director is required (unless geographic distance or unusual emergency circumstances preclude), during which the applicant shall fill out the Guild’s Emergency Assistance Application form. Original applications and all photocopied documentation shall be kept in an applicant's file for a period of five fiscal years. If an in-person interview is precluded by the urgency of the emergency need, or by geographic distance, disability or illness, the application form and photocopied documentation may be forwarded and received by mail or fax.
Disbursement checks should be vendorized whenever possible, and should not be issued directly to the recipient, except in case of grants issued for sustenance, (local travel, groceries, etc). This is to insure that grant awards are used only to address the presented need. If vendorization is not possible, grantee shall provide a signed receipt and provide documentation of how the grant was spent before any further grant applications will be considered.
As a matter of policy, Funds disbursed through the Emergency Aid & Relief Program are outright grants; the Guild does not expect repayment, services or products in return for grants.
Emergency Aid & Relief Program Grants are to be disbursed primarily for the following purposes:
1.) Medical: Physicians’ and dentists’ bills, health insurance premiums, laboratory fees, prescriptions, and medical supplies.
2.) Rent and late fees resulting from delinquency in rent payment; in emergency circumstances, mortgage payments, if equity in real estate does not make other potential resources available. Help with moving expenses and, to a limited degree, storage costs, if an emergency situation necessitates relocation of the applicant.
3.) Utilities (gas, electric, or heating fuel). To a limited degree, telephone bills. Under very unusual circumstances, cable.
4.) Basic Sustenance and Transportation.
5.) Payment of Union dues, if it serves to re-establish eligibility for Union welfare resources.
6.) Cremation, funeral, and burial expenses.
7.) Unusual Needs or purposes other than those set forth above may be considered and be deemed allowable, if compelling extenuating circumstances warrant, with the approval of 3 members of the Grants Committee.
8.) Children’s Holiday Fund. Following a longstanding Guild tradition, during the December Holiday Season, the Executive Director as Administrator of the Emergency Aid & Relief Program may at his/her discretion, disburse up to a total amount of $2000 in the form of grants to persons under the age of 18 years, who are children or dependents of Guild grant recipients.
9.) HIV/PWA Program (See below)
Applicants may be referred to the Guild by any of the union-affiliated relief fund programs, when such are unable to meet entirely the needs presented to them by an applicant. They may also be referred by word of mouth. If applicants approach the Guild before contacting other relief organizations, the Guild shall first refer such applicants to any union-affiliated relief fund programs for which they may be eligible. Because most performers belong to several unions, they therefore have multiple relief sources available to them, of which the Guild should be the last. However, in unusual situations, the Executive Director may provide immediate attention and funding at his discretion, for amounts up to $500. Under normal circumstances, the correct order of appeal is as follows:
1.) First application to parent union (first union joined);
2.) Next appeal – other unions.
3.) If applicants belong only to SAG or AEA or AGMA, they should apply directly to the Actor's Fund of America, which administers those Unions’ relief programs. If the Actor's Fund cannot provide sufficient funds to meet the presented need, the Guild may then take application and consider providing the unmet balance.
IV. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Any applicant who feels it necessary to contest or appeal a determination made by the Grants Committee or by the Emergency Aid & Relief Program Administrator may do so in correspondence addressed to: Grants Committee, Episcopal Actors' Guild, 1. East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016.
The Executive Director and the office staff are the only persons who shall have direct contact with applicants throughout the application process. They are also the only persons with unrestricted access to the applicants’ files, which are confidential. The only exceptions shall be the Certified Public Accountant, who, as a part of an annual audit, spot-checks random files to ensure that procedures are being followed, and, ex-officio, the Guild's Warden and Treasurer, as part of their oversight and fiduciary responsibilities. When no staff member is present, the Guild offices shall be kept locked. The Executive Director shall regularly provide the Grants Committee with reports that protect the identity of each recipient by employing a unique identifier code. No member of the Grants Committee shall discuss the particulars of any case with anyone other than fellow Grants Committee members or the Executive Director.
VI. ETHICS STATEMENT
Because the Performing Arts Community depends upon the Episcopal Actors' Guild to help persons in need and distress, members of the Committee and those who administer the Emergency Aid & Relief Fund Program of the Guild shall always do so with empathy, objective fairness and a strong sense of duty. They shall always conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards.
A. The Guild shall disburse donors' money wisely, efficiently, and objectively.
B. The Guild shall deal sympathetically with applicants, showing objective fairness in decisions of awards and assistance.
C. Patience and restraint shall be exercised in dealing with applicants, who are often in crisis due to financially, and emotionally stressful situations, and may therefore manifest difficult behavior.
D. The Emergency Aid & Relief Program shall always respect the confidentiality of each and every applicant and recipient. No member of the Grants Committee shall discuss the particulars of any case with anyone other than fellow Grants Committee members or the Executive Director.
E. There shall be no discrimination towards any applicant on the basis of age, gender, religious creed, ethnicity, race, color or sexual orientation.
F. To avoid conflict of interest, otherwise qualified Officers, Council Members, or current employees of the Episcopal Actors' Guild may not be recipients of funds from the Guild’s Emergency Aid & Relief Program. Vendors or other individuals who provide paid services to the Guild also may not be recipients. Former Guild employees who receive retirement benefits or other ongoing income from the Guild may not be recipients.
POLICIES AND CRITERIA FOR THE HIV / PWA CATEGORY OF THE AID & RELIEF PROGRAM.
In the Spring of 1999, a separate HIV/PWA Category within the Emergency Aid & Relief Program was created by vote of the Guild Council, and an annual budget was allocated, (Currently $20,000, to be funded to the maximum degree possible by separate fundraising.)
The Grants Committee had earlier concluded that persons with HIV/AIDS should not have to compete for the Guild’s limited available Aid & Relief Program funds with applicants who do not have this health problem. It was recognized that, unlike applicants to the Aid & Relief Program who have ongoing careers and a viable future career potential, persons with HIV/AIDS often qualify by virtue of past performing arts careers. It was further recognized that because people in the performing arts who are HIV-infected or living with AIDS often subsist on a fixed income which precludes the ability to absorb the cost of any unplanned expense, their day-to-day security and quality of life is particularly vulnerable. They must also deal every day with the real risk of contracting opportunistic illnesses, they must live with the often debilitating side-effects caused by therapeutic drug treatment regimens, and must cope with a prognosis which includes the risk of a shorter life span. The circumstances presented by applicants who have HIV/AIDS, therefore, pose problems and needs which shall thus be considered and governed by special policies and criteria, as follows:
1.) A fully executed application form shall be required only once during each fiscal year. If an applicant in this
category has already made application, has presented documentation of HIV+ and/or AIDS status, and has met the other usual qualifying standards with regard to the lack of other personal or other welfare agency resources, a simplified one-page supplementary application form shall suffice during any remaining portion of the then current Guild fiscal year.
2.) Because those persons with HIV/AIDS who apply to the Guild often need modest but more frequent grants to supplement the fixed incomes provided them by other agency programs, purposes for grants may include needs such as the following:
a.) The cost of temporary emergency drug prescriptions or diagnostic laboratory tests which would otherwise not be immediately available through the usual health provider resources.
b.) Emergency replacement of prescription eyeglasses.
c.) Transportation for the purpose of keeping appointments with health care providers.
d.) Replacement of all types of necessary clothing and footwear.
e.) Replacement of necessary household appliances which would otherwise be unaffordable.
f.) Emergency sustenance, when it can be documented that fixed-income monies have been used for other unplanned but justifiable emergency purposes, such as those listed above.
g.) Moving or storage costs related to transferring to more affordable housing.
h.) Payment of lapsed union dues, for the purpose of going on honorable withdrawal, to reinstate union membership, and/or to make other resources and/or employment opportunities possible.
i.) The needs of dependents or caregivers of PWA’s may be considered with the approval of three members of the Grants Committee.
j.) Other unusual but necessary quality-of-life needs presented by applicants in this category may be considered, with the prior approval of three members of the Grants Committee.