Eight longtime friends of Tricia McCauley–a beloved figure in DC’s theater scene who disappeared on Christmas Day and was found dead in her car two days later–have set up a memorial charity fund in her honor. The proceeds will help DC theater professionals cover their health insurance costs.
Ann Mezger, one of the fund’s organizers and someone who was close with McCauley for more than 20 years, says McCauley’s good friends got together to grieve shortly after hearing word of her death.
“After reminiscing, we said we have to do something, we have to take this opportunity to memorialize her in a meaningful way,” Mezger says.
McCauley held down gigs as an actor, a licensed nutritionist, and a yoga instructor, among others, and often had trouble getting health insurance, which further complicated her struggle with bad food allergies. She received insurance by performing in DC theaters affiliated with the union Actors’ Equity, but lost coverage when she started focusing more on her other jobs and interests.
Also, since many theaters can’t afford to pay union wages, being a union member often means losing out on performance opportunities. So while McCauley had health insurance, she vied for an even smaller portion of the already sparse amount of acting roles in town.
Anne McCaw, a writer and company member at Fairfax’s Hub Theater who was also close with McCauley, hopes the new charity fund will help mitigate this issue. “Actors get stuck in this conundrum of where and if they can get work in DC,” she says. “We want to encourage as many artists in DC as possible to continue to build such a thriving, exciting theater world.”
The fund went live on December 29 and has since raised more than $30,000. Mezger says the donations so far are “overwhelming as an expression of love for Tricia.” The fund aims to raise $75,000 total.
“It feels like people have the same sentiments that we do,” McCaw says. “the desire to take the worst situation you can possibly imagine and make something beautiful and lasting out of it.”
Mezger says she’ll be meeting with DC theater organizations over the next few weeks and intends to set up the fund as a trust account that will live in perpetuity.
You can donate to the fund here.