Last month, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre launched the Theatre Artists Fund to support theatre workers and freelancers across the UK who have not been able to work since theatres closed in March and those who were not eligible for Government aid.
Spearheaded by director Sam Mendes and initially established with a £500k donation from Netflix, the fund grew significantly over the first few weeks with The Estate Of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders joining Netflix as headline supporters.
Over £2,400,000 has been raised and donations have been made far and wide from members of the public to industry leaders and stage stars including The Mackintosh Foundation, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, Imelda Staunton, Sonia Friedman, Caro Newling, Colin Firth, and many more.
The fund provides quick, efficient and easy grants of £1000 for theatre practitioners who find themselves with nowhere else to turn and particularly, those from underrepresented groups disproportionately affected by the crisis.
The first round of the fund opened on Monday 6 July and saw almost 4,000 applications in just one week! We reached out to some of the recipients to find out how the pandemic has affected them and we’re highlighting some of their stories throughout the next few weeks.
In today’s Theatre Artists Fund interview, we’re sharing the story of youth and stage manager, CJ Mitchell and why she applied for the grant.
How has the pandemic affected you?
It has been a strain emotionally and financially. I was made redundant. I was also doing a freelance project as part of a team to direct and production manage a Youth Production of Little Shop of Horrors that was going to incorporate young people from many ethnic and financial backgrounds to get involved on stage and backstage. This was cancelled due to the pandemic so not only am I out of work but many young people have missed out on chances to participate in theatre in this way this summer. I also had to become a teacher for my boys in Reception and Year 2 and with no available childcare, it was difficult to take on any roles.
Why did you apply for the Theatre Artists Fund grant?
I have 2 wonderful little boys who depend on me.
What does getting this grant mean to you?
The grant is a lifeline. It allows me to still survive this with my family and hopefully do all I can to protect them until our industry opens successfully again.
What will theatres re-opening mean to you?
Theatre can show other perspectives to an audience. It allows people to become emotionally involved in storytelling and I think that’s something the world really needs right now. All through this pandemic, people have been listening to music, watching streaming services and binge-watching media created by artists and others in our industry. I need theatre because it’s what I’m passionate about and as a black woman in our industry I want to continue to make a difference.
If you’d like to find out more about the Theatre Artists Fund or if you’d like to donate, please click the button below.