Looking for Health? Money? Housing? Read On…

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CVII, No. 10October, 2007

Janet Becker, LCSW, Ph.D.

As many of you know — especially those who read this page each month — the Musicians’ Assistance Program offers free and confidential help for a wide range of personal, relationship and career problems to Local 802 members and their families.

These include crisis intervention and short-term counseling, drug and alcohol problems, as well as advocacy for emergency financial assistance.

However, some of you may not know that MAP is professionally staffed and administered by the Actors Fund, a national nonprofit that has been helping people in the entertainment industry for 125 years.

(Broadway musicians may know of the Actors Fund from having donated their time playing at the fund’s special performances).

Here in New York, the Actors Fund offers a full range of programs and services for which Local 802 members may be eligible.

MAP often refers musicians to the fund’s various workshops and programs, which are varied, specialized and extensive.

Given the richness of the Actors Fund programs, it seems useful to let our members know more about what it offers, and how they may have access to these services.


As most entertainment industry professionals are usually employed on a per-project basis, income is not always steady or predictable. This is especially true for musicians.

The Actors Work Program provides counseling, job training, and job placements to help clients find work that can be done while continuing their artistic careers, or while developing a new professional direction.

(Despite its name, the Actors Work Program is for all entertainment professionals — not just actors. That’s true of all of the Actors Fund programs. Musicians are always welcome!)

Seminars are regularly offered to help with networking, resume writing, job search and interview skills, among other specialty areas.

The Actors Work Program is uniquely sensitized to the needs of performing artists, recognizing that they need employment which not only pays the bills but which may feed the soul, as well.


Many people cannot afford health insurance and do not have access to health care services.

This is perhaps among the most serious issues in our country today, very much affecting musicians and other artists.

The Actors Fund has set up a Web site called the Health Insurance Resource Center, which offers health insurance guidance. (It’s at

The site has a comprehensive database containing information about health insurance options, both public and private, on a state-by-state basis.

The Actors Fund also offers actual health care. The fund sponsors the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic (475 West 57th Street) and the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative.

The Hirschfeld Clinic provides free health care to those who are uninsured or underinsured, including urgent, primary and specialty care, with low-cost referrals to a wide range of specialty clinics and practitioners.

The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative addresses current and future health issues that impact women in the industry.

For more information, see


Affordable housing is another area of need for many musicians. The Entertainment Industry Assistance Program at the Actors Fund offers monthly housing seminars, as well as individual counseling to help clients find or maintain suitable housing for themselves and their families.

Affordable, supportive housing is provided to eligible applicants at the Aurora Residence at 475 West 57th Street, as well as Schermerhorn House in Brooklyn, which will open in the coming year.

Furthermore, the Housing Resource Center provides on-line information for finding affordable housing, roommates and apartment sharing, tenants’ rights, housing court and first home purchasing.


In order to assist performing artists to achieve and maintain financial solvency, this service offers a series of specialized workshops and groups, as well as individual counseling.

Group themes address the issues of budgeting, cash flow management, debt counseling, and support to overcome the avoidance which financial anxiety often perpetuates.


Intensive case management, financial assistance, counseling and ongoing support are provided to performing artists who are HIV positive, or who have AIDS. In addition to individual counseling, there are support groups as well as groups for the recently diagnosed.


The above is a only a brief outline of what the Actors Fund offers, and for which many Local 802 members may be eligible.

In order to know more about these programs, you are welcome to check out the Actors Fund Web site at

However, it is necessary for 802 members to first call us at MAP, and to come in for an assessment in order to determine need and eligibility. Local 802 members must be referred by the MAP office in order to access services at the Actors Fund.

For a complete list of services, classes and groups, see and click on “Services and Programs” from the top black menus, or scroll down “Workshops and Seminars” on the right-hand sidebar.

If you feel that you might benefit from knowing more about these programs, and that they might help you to better manage your own issues regarding work, health care, housing, or financial management, call us at the MAP office at (212) 397-4802. We will be happy to help you.