BY SOFIA VALDES
Two breweries in Queens, along with seven other New York City breweries, are joining the nationwide “Curtain Up Beer Project” to raise money for arts workers who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Happy Hour Guys and Gun Hill Brewing Company, both based in Queens, established the Curtain Up Beer Project to help raise money for The Actors Fund, a national human services organization for everyone in entertaining and performing arts, and arts organizations nationwide.
The Curtain Up initiative is a unique brew collaboration with more than 50 other craft breweries and counting. Breweries are asked to donate to The Actors Fund and a local arts group of their choosing to ensure that communities directly benefit from the Curtain Up Beer Project.
The Curtain Up initiative is an outgrowth of the Broadway Brews Project, which was started by The Happy Hour Guys in order to raise money through charity by combining Broadway theater and craft beer. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the Happy Hour Guys — Broadway actors Jimmy Ludwig (“Spamalot,” “Little Shop of Horrors”) and Mark Aldrich (“Ragtime,” “Newsies,” “My Fair Lady”) — led the creation of five beers with five different Broadway shows. The shows included “Hamilton,” “Come From Away” and “Waitress.”
Gun Hill Brewing Company, creator of the first Broadway Brew “Hamilton” beer, has developed a Hazy IPA recipe for Curtain Up to be brewed and released by local breweries throughout the country.
“The entertainment community is about collaboration, heart and creativity. We’re truly grateful to Jimmy Ludwig and Mark Aldrich of The Happy Hour Guys, and to David Lopez of Gun Hill Brewing Company for this collaborative effort,” said Actors Fund President and CEO Joseph P. Benincasa. “Their heart and creativity in the creation of Curtain Up will raise much needed funds to help those in need in our performing arts and entertainment community.”
During the second week of March 2020, live performances were halted across the nation and as a result, tens of thousands of performers were left with no work and knowledge of when they would return. Months later, arts professionals are now struggling due to their lack of income and health insurance, among other issues. Many are even being threatened with eviction notices.
Arts professionals are in dire need of work but, according to Ludwig, “the industry may not be back to full employment until a year after a vaccine is introduced.”
That is why Ludwig and Aldrich are trying to do their part in helping the Broadway industry by creating the Curtain Up initiative.
“Our entire industry faces dire economic circumstances. The need grows with each passing month, which is why expect the project to last all year,” adds Mark Aldrich/The Happy Hour Guys. “Our mission with Curtain Up was to create a palpable relief funding for our fellow arts workers — we’re thrilled The Actors Fund and Gun Hill Brewing Co. have jumped on board as well as our brew partners across the United States.”
“Very happy to join the Happy Hour Guys once again to help our arts community. Live performance is a vital piece of NYC both culturally and economically,” says David Lopez, co-founder of Gun Hill Brewing Company. “We look forward to more breweries joining and brewing Curtain Up throughout the coming year,” he adds.
Curtain Up is available on tap and in cans at select retail locations, bars and venues across the country as breweries continue to release the beer. Dates and details can be found at curtainupbeer.com