In May 1985, the Biscotto-Miller Fund was launched with a benefit performance, Arts Against AIDS (which I coproduced) at Second City. Named for stage manager Tom Biscotto and actor J. Pat Miller—whose deaths had driven home AIDS’s terrible implications for the local theater community—the fund’s purpose was to get money for medical care, food, housing, and other basic needs to Chicago theater artists with the disease. Over the next few years, this volunteer effort expanded into Season of Concern—a full-time, professional operation that raises money for local direct-care organizations serving community members fighting AIDS and other catastrophic illnesses. The Biscotto-Miller Fund continues as an emergency fund, offering direct cash grants to needy individuals.
Most contributions to Season of Concern come from the ensembles and presenters themselves—tiny storefronts to Broadway in Chicago—which donate proceeds from their shows. Aside from raising money, their benefit performances raise awareness of AIDS and of the often fragile economic circumstances in which many theater artists live.