Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ “Gypsy of the Year” competition has been renamed the “Red Bucket Follies.”
The name change comes after Actors’ Equity changed the name of the Gypsy Robe, given to longtime chorus members, to the Legacy Robe this past summer, due to the concerns about the insensitivity of the term “Gypsy,” which can be seen as derogatory toward the Roma people. Broadway Cares said it is changing the name of its 29-year-old event due to similar concerns about the connotation of the word.
“Though it saddens me – and I know it will others – to rename this event, we do not want Broadway Cares to create division in our community,” Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, said in a press release. “Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ legacy is one of embrace, inclusion and bringing people together. Our commitment to those defining motivations is bigger and more important than a single word or the name of an event. Even with all the diverse opinions that go into any endeavor in this wildly creative, deeply caring and, yes, at times, contentious neighborhood, there are bigger battles we must take on together.”
The theater community’s shift away from the term has been met with some pushback. When the national council of Actors’ Equity voted to change the name of the robe in April, some members had spoken out against the change due to the way in which the word “Gypsy,” has become an honorific within the theater community, denoting years of working in the industry.
In a statement sent to Broadway News, Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, congratulated Broadway Cares on making the name change.
“Bravo to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS! I’m so glad to see that the tradition of the red bucket will continue, helping to raise money for lifesaving medication, healthy meals and emergency financial aid for those living with HIV/AIDS,” McColl said.
The Broadway Cares event, now known as the “Red Bucket Follies,” is the culmination of six weeks of fundraising for the non-profit organization, which provides needed services for people living with AIDS or other critical illnesses. During those six weeks, red buckets — for which the event has been renamed — are passed around in theaters Broadway, off-Broadway and on the road.
The show features ensemble members and others performing skits, songs and dances. At the end, awards are given out to the best performance and for the top fundraiser across the previous six weeks.
The show itself has raised $76 million since 1989, on top of the money raised each year through the fundraising at shows. Last year’s show raised a record $5.6 million.
This year’s “Red Bucket Follies” will take place Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Fundraising will begin Oct. 19, 2018.