The 1996 Broadway Flea Market, held Sept. 28 in New York's Shubert Alley (West 45th Street), raised a record $468,000 for the charitable organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, beating 1995's mark by nearly $100,000.
According to Tom Viola, producing director of BC/EFA, the $468K tally beats last year's sum of $312,000. This year's auction alone raised $294,000, which is $92,000 over last year's mark.
Why the extraordinary numbers? "This is the best weather we've had in three or four years," Viola (pronounced v-eye-ola) said, alluding to the Fair's usual approximation of a rainy wind-tunnel. "We also reconfigured the space so we'd have more tables going down 45th street; people had more room to shop.
The tenth annual street fair began at 10 AM and ran to 7:30 PM. As always, the crowded event featured the usual mix of items for sale: posters, Playbills and cast-autographed Playbills, baked goods cooked by the casts of Broadway shows, CDs, tapes and videos (including a video of this season's Easter Bonnet Competition), knick-knacks, costumes and clothes. Non-theatre items included authentic cue-cards used on Late Show With David Letterman, film scripts and Christmas ornaments.
Of the auction items, the biggest was a walk-on in Broadway's Les Miserables, which went for $25,000. Also high on the list was dinner with Betty Buckley, a bargain at $12,500. Other grand Grand Auction items included a walk-on in Smokey Joe's Cafe ($11,000); a walk-on on TV's "Friends" ($15,000) including airfare and hotel accommodations; and a framed poster signed by all the presenters of the `95-`96 Tony Awards, plus 4 tickets to an invited dress rehearsal of next year's ceremony ($10,000).
The cutest item of the day had to be the the t-shirt sold by the table representing the Off-Broadway revue, When Pigs Fly , which tweaked the biggest musical of the year by showing a little pink pig flying over the word "Runt."
Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS was founded Oct. 1987 and has raised millions in the fight against AIDS and raised tens of millions "through the mobilization of the theatrical expertise of the entertainment industry."