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Theatre Artists Fund opens for next round of applications and broadens eligibility

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood Published 6 November 2020

The Theatre Artists Fund, created to provide emergency financial support for struggling theatre freelancers, opens at 12pm today (Friday 6 November) for its next two-week round of applications.

Until 12pm on Friday 20 November, eligible theatre professionals can apply via the Theatre Artists Fund website for a £1000 grant to help with living costs – and for the first time, the fund is accepting applications from freelance theatre marketers, press representatives and providers of assisted performance services (audio description, BSL, captions). Previous beneficiaries are able to re-apply, with grants continuing to be awarded on the basis of financial hardship.

Launched in July, and spearheaded by leading director Sam Mendes, the fund was established by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, with a £500,000 donation from Netflix and a subsequent £1 million contribution from the Arts Council. John Gore and Broadway.com have also recently made a substantial donation of £300,000.

The fund offers quick, efficient and easy access to individual grants of £1000, so far raising nearly £4 million and providing support to 2600 theatre practitioners across the UK who have been unable to receive Government support.

Following the news of a second lockdown, the Theatre Artists Fund will prove especially vital to the industry, as theatres – many just beginning to reopen with socially distanced audiences – have been forced to cancel November performances. With thousands of staff and freelancers still in limbo, the need for emergency financial aid has only increased since the fund was launched four months ago.

In a recent survey completed by 632 grant beneficiaries, over 70% of respondents said they had not been able to secure any professional theatre work since lockdown in March. 85% of participants said the Theatre Artists Fund helped them pay their bills, mortgage or rent, with 62% saying it helped them put food on the table. 36% said they had used their creative skills to help the NHS or their local community.

At last month’s Olivier Awards, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and Sam Mendes met theatre professionals who had already benefited from the Theatre Artists Fund, who shared personal stories and expressed their gratitude for being supported by the industry at such a difficult time.

Additional benefactors of the fund include Backstage Trust, the Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders, the Mackintosh Foundation, Eilene Davidson Productions, Jim Broadbent, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Dockery, Sonia Friedman, Phyllida Lloyd, Colin Firth, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Imelda Staunton and Ralph Fiennes. 

Sam Mendes said: 

‘Over the last couple of months, a small number of freelancers were able to find employment once again, as venues across the country found creative ways to re-open. This has now been thrown back into chaos, and once again our freelance community is plunged into uncertainty and financial hardship. We urge theatre artists who are struggling to please apply for a grant. We also urge those of you who can, to please help by giving as much as you can afford. This is a lifeline for those that need it, and the more we receive the more we can continue to help.’

Applications for individual grants are open from 12pm today (6 November) and will close two weeks later at 12pm on 20 November.

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We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

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While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.