Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Expanding Services for Artists at a Free Health Care Clinic

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

November 14, 2008








Many performing artists work only intermittently and in low-paying jobs, making health insurance unaffordable and access to health care precarious.

The Al Hirschfeld Clinic fills a critical gap for this unique population with a concentrated presence in New York. The Actors Fund, founded in 1882 and headquartered in New York City, provides safety-net services for professionals in performing arts and entertainment—theater, film, television, music, opera and dance.

The Al Hirschfeld Free Clinic, operating since 2003, is a part of The Actors Fund Health Services, and provides free health care to uninsured or underinsured entertainment and performing arts professionals in the New York City area. In 2007, the Clinic served 1,224 patients—a 10% increase over the previous year. The Clinic employs a full-time Medical Director, but otherwise relies on volunteer specialists who see Clinic patients at no cost or significantly reduced rates. This project expanded the Clinic’s treatment capacity by approximately 25%. Specifically, a provider relations manager recruited more general practitioners willing to see Clinic patients in their own offices; recruited emergency room doctors to fill in for the Medical Director; contracted the services of a gastroenterologist and a second orthopedic surgeon; built a dentist referral network; and formalized free and sliding-fee relationships with psychiatrists. The manager also identified free or low-cost diagnostic testing and imaging services and established relations with drug companies to procure pharmaceutical donations.