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A Show of Support: The Provincetown Performing Arts Fund Helps Out

by Steve Desroches

Provincetown takes care of its own. Throughout the town’s history that’s been the takeaway. When the chips are down, the community turns out to help those in need. And despite the toxicity of social media pages that may make one think that’s no longer the case, the caring, communal soul of Provincetown is still very much intact. Often those expressions that illustrate the concern for the town are done quietly and with little notice, but they are there. People just don’t make a show of it. However, the latest example of the special nature of Provincetown’s generosity and kindness is quite literally a spectacle, and a fabulous one at that.

The moment it was certain there would be no indoor entertainment this summer in Provincetown could have registered on the Richter scale. Cabaret and theater are vital, not just to the culture of the town, but to its economy. A time of high anxiety already, those who work in the large entertainment sector of Provincetown immediately began to look past summer and question how they would survive the off-season without the normal seasonal income and nowhere else to take gigs to supplement the loss. That’s when entertainers Jonathan Hawkins and Jon Richardson, who themselves lost significant income, saw an opportunity to help those in what is already a high-risk vocation. So in April they created the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund (PPAF), which seeks to provide economic relief to theater and cabaret professionals of all types who are out of work or struggling due to loss of income as the pandemic continues.

“So often in Provincetown, entertainers do benefits to help others,” says Hawkins. “Now many entertainers may be applying for help themselves. It was clear we needed to create some sort of relief fund for these people who give so much to the town and are part of something that is so special and important. Provincetown has become an entertainment destination. We need to help the people who make it so.”

Qya Cristál

The PPAF partnered with the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, a Hyannis-based arts agency that for the past 20 years has supported the arts in Barnstable County. The PPAF, with the support of the Provincetown-based Palette Fund, raises money that the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod manages and will distribute. Grants of up to $500 will be available to qualifying applicants who work in the performing arts, both on stage and in technical and other ancillary professions. Applicants must either be a year-round resident of Provincetown or have worked in the performing arts in town for at least three full seasons as well as show urgent financial need. Both the PPAF and the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod have selection committees in place and will work together when giving out grants.

The current goal is to raise $15,000. As of early August they’ve raised $5,295. While private donations have come in, the majority of funds have come through the weekly benefit shows each Thursday, poolside at the Crown and Anchor. Each week features a revolving host of performers presenting a show in which 100 percent of the ticket revenue goes to the fund. The benefit shows have been a big hit, especially the drag legend trio presented on August 6, where Miss Richfield 1981, Varla Jean Merman, and Dina Martina joined forces in perhaps a once in a lifetime event, complemented by a show-stopping number by Qya Cristal and Hawkins and Richardson. It also signaled a coming together of entertainment venues as Miss Richfield performs her outdoor show at the Pilgrim House and Varla Jean normally performs at the Art House, which like the Post Office Cabaret, is closed for the season. In times of crisis, competition gives way to cooperation, something that in post-pandemic Provincetown is most welcome and beneficial to the community at large.

While it’s hard to see now, there will be an end to this pandemic, and the PPAF plans to evolve when the time comes. It takes a lot of hard work to become a seasonal headliner in Provincetown, and with the high cost of living on the Outer Cape and the fickle nature of the entertainment business, it can be hard for young and new acts to break into the cabaret scene. Those new and fresh voices are vital to a robust and dynamic arts community. As such, the PPAF will explore ways it can help those artists to continue to come to Provincetown to become part of what is increasingly known throughout the country as a place with a unique and distinct artistic voice, not just on the canvas and the written word, but on the stage, too.

Dina Martina

“On any given night in a summer there are 25 to 30 shows to choose from,” says Hawkins. “It’s become one of the town’s biggest draws. The entertainment you can see in Provincetown, the assembly of the type of artists that come here is a unique community. We have to support it to ensure its survival.”

A Benefit for the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund runs Poolside at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St. every Thursday at 7 p.m. through September 10. Tickets ($35 VIP/$25 general admission) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.1430. For more information, to make a donation or to apply for a grant from the Provincetown Performing Arts Fund, visit For more information on the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod visit

Performance Schedule:

August 13, September 3 and 10:
Jonathan Hawkins, Qya Cristál, Jon Richardson with João Pedro Santos and Harrison Fish

August 20:
John Cameron Mitchell, Bitch, and Jonathan Hawkins

August 27:
Zoë Lewis and the Social Distancers featuring Roxanne Layton, Jonathan Hawkins, Qya Cristál, and the Gorgeous Cigarette Girl.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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