Introducing the BTS Counseling Fund

The new BTS Counseling Fund is designed to provide early access to mental health and addiction counseling for entertainment technology professionals by assisting with the associated financial burdens. After an initial period of fundraising, Behind the Scenes will begin accepting grant applications in the Spring of 2017. A streamlined application form has been developed and will be available on the Behind the Scenes website when granting is ready to begin. Click here to donate to the Counseling Fund.

Grants will be available to entertainment technology professionals who reside in the U.S. or Canada and who have earned their living in the industry for at least five years.

For individuals seeking to initiate or support ongoing counseling, the funds will be issued as a subsidy on a per visit basis giving the grant recipient the flexibility to change providers if they find their initial choice isn’t working well for them and, most importantly, encouraging a longer-term client/therapist relationship.

Funds will also be available to individuals entering an in-patient or intensive out-patient recovery program or those experiencing an emergency in-patient mental health event.

Payments will be made directly to a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, mental health facility, emergency medical facility, or chemical dependency recovery facility. Unlicensed providers will not be considered eligible.

Behind the Scenes was approached earlier this year by Karen Sherman with the idea of creating the fund, “I'm a choreographer whose day job is as a stage technician; I've worked both sides of the stage for over 20 years. Stage technicians tend to view themselves as invincible, working as they do in a physically demanding, dangerous industry that shuts them away in a darkened theater for days, nights and weekends, and through it all asks them to remain unseen and unheard. While depression, anxiety, and substance abuse occur across every profession, many aspects of the stage production industry reinforce these problems.“

A few years ago, Karen began working on a piece called Soft Goods to highlight this issue. Structured as a live load-in, tech, and rehearsal for a show that never happens, she has developed it in collaboration with an ensemble of technicians and dancers, all of whom appear in the performance in their actual roles. Soft Goods has been co-commissioned by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), P.S. 122 (NYC), and the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (Los Angeles). The Walker, where Soft Goods premieres December 8-10, will be donating a portion of the proceeds from each ticket sale to seed the fund.

Karen commented, “Most people think of theaters as places that bring people together but often that's at the expense of its workers. I've lost many colleagues to suicide and alcoholism, including during the making of this very show. In an effort to add to the project a tangible, real-life resource addressing the issue, I approached Behind the Scenes about creating this dedicated fund. I recognize that for anyone who is struggling, the hardest part is admitting they need help and finding resources. But I didn't want money to be anyone's final excuse for not following through - especially for freelancers like me who toil in an already impoverished art economy, making financial stability unpredictable. There are many things we can do to improve our industry and make it more survivable. This is one.”

Performances of Soft Goods will take place in New York and Los Angeles in 2017 and will be announced on Karen Sherman’s website at and the Behind the Scenes website.

Click here to donate to the Counseling Fund.



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