The Altman Family believes so strongly in Behind the Scenes that they issued a challenge to help launch the program. They would match every dollar raised in the first year, dollar for dollar, up to $125,000. The Entertainment Technology Industry answered that challenge in just eight months, with over $150,000 raised in donations and pledges.
When told Behind the Scenes had met the challenge Robert Altman responded, "The entire Altman family is extremely pleased to know that the challenge was so quickly met. It is not surprising though considering the supportiveness of the people in our industry. Our family has long been aware of the caring nature of our colleagues and customers. Behind the Scenes is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to do something for each other and while meeting this challenge is exciting, we all must remember that continuing support year after year will be the only way to sustain this worthwhile cause."
The industry has stepped up in many different ways. At LDI 2005, The ESTA Foundation Board of Directors announced personal donations totaling $30,000, and the raffle of a Harley Davidson raised both funds and awareness for the program. Many people came forward with generous donations. In December, several companies supported the program as part of their holiday charitable giving. At USITT in 2006, Behind the Scenes and the Long Reach Long Riders joined forces to hold a multi-prize raffle launching fundraising for the Long Riders' annual cross-country motorcycle ride. The Live Design Honors included a silent auction; the Broadway shops gathered for a Tony Awards benefit party; and companies, union locals, and venues are using the new fundraising coordinator toolkits to launch workplace giving campaigns. In July, the Long Reach Long Riders set out knowing their effort put Behind the Scenes over the top of the challenge grant.
This is just the beginning. Behind the Scenes must build a substantial endowment that will ensure that the benefits of this program will be wide spread and long lasting. Knowing that there are individuals with immediate needs, The ESTA Foundation Board of Directors moved to award a limited number of grants in the first year, and the first grant went out in May. Word has spread that help is now available and many more applications are being received than can be funded. A goal of five million dollars has been set for the endowment. Rick Rudolph, Chair of the Behind the Scenes Committee, commented, "It's so important for us as an industry to care for our colleagues when they are in need. The more people give right now the more people we will be able to assist this year and into the future."
Behind the Scenes is an initiative of The ESTA Foundation to provide industry members with financial support when they are seriously ill or injured. For more information about Behind the Scenes, to donate, or to apply for a grant, visit www.estafoundation.org/bts