The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport via Arts Council England, Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Backstage Trust have led a campaign for donations to the Theatre Artists Fund over the past 48 hours, alongside other major benefactors and trusts. From this extraordinary collective effort, £2 million has already been raised to help the growing number of theatre freelancers suddenly finding themselves without work, due to the UK’s rising number of Covid cases and subsequent show cancellations.
A new round of Theatre Artists Fund grant applications opens at midday on Friday 24 December for individuals whose work has been directly impacted due to Covid. Applications will close at midday on Monday 10 January, with assessments and money being distributed as soon as possible after that date.
The Theatre Artist Fund, set up by Director Sam Mendes and administered by the Society of London Theatre‘s sister charity Theatre Development Trust, offers individual emergency grants of £1000 for freelance professional theatre workers – from actors, dancers and musicians to technicians, stage managers, publicists, outreach staff and many more. The Fund’s purpose is to provide vital financial aid to those directly impacted by the pandemic and unable to access direct government support.
Since launching in the summer of 2020, the Theatre Artists Fund has raised over £7.8 million, and has given out around 8,200 grants to those most in need.
This latest round of grant applications is possible thanks to the generous donations of £1 million from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, a further £250,000 from the Backstage Trust and over £100,000 from major individuals and smaller trusts. Arts Council England, with the support of DCMS, have also responded speedily to the needs of individual freelance workers, giving another significant investment of £650,000.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:
‘The advance of the Omicron variant means that the cultural sector is once again dealing with further adversity. We thank the government for its unprecedented support for our creative and cultural organisations during these difficult and uncertain times.
‘We are pleased to have been able to make £650,000 immediately available to the Theatre Artists Fund to support freelancers, and are grateful to the theatre community for the incredible generosity they have shown with their contribution to the fund. We will continue to deliver funds on behalf of government to help protect the livelihoods of the many individuals and organisations that keep culture alive across the country.’
The Theatre Artists Fund continues to need donations for this latest round of grant funding, to support the countless individuals facing an uncertain Christmas and beyond due to the current Covid situation.