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Theatre Artists Fund raises £3.5m including a £1m contribution from Arts Council England

First Published 26 August 2020, Last Updated 28 August 2020

Theatre Artist Fund today announces that thanks to significant investment from Arts Council England, the fund is now open for its next round of applications. The Arts Council has contributed £1 million to the Theatre Artist Fund, following on from the £4 million distributed to benevolent funds earlier in the year as part of its Covid-19 Emergency Response Package.

Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture, Arts Council England said, “The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on every part of our cultural sector – but individual artists and freelancers have been especially badly hit, losing work and uncertain of their future. Supporting individuals to think, plan and practice is a priority for the Arts Council, and we are using our resources to make this possible. We are complementing the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund by reopening our National Lottery Project Grants programme and will shortly be relaunching Developing Your Creative Practice. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to contribute to the Theatre Artists Fund, which is working hard to provide a lifeline to thousands of theatre professionals, including those from our most under-represented communities, during this unparalleled crisis for the arts.”

Further support to the fund has also been received from Backstage Trust, Es Devlin, Jim Broadbent, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Lee Hall and Beeban Kidron, Michelle Dockery, Peter Morgan, Phyllida Lloyd and Ralph Fiennes, as it continues to provide a lifeline to those who have remained out of work since theatres closed in March.

Launched on 6th July, the new fund, spearheaded by Sam Mendes, was established with a £500k donation from Netflix. It offers quick, efficient and easy access individual grants of £1000 per applicant. Round 1 of applications closed on the 13th July and the fund has been able to provide rescue grants to 1600 practitioners from across the UK.

These professionals have up until this point been unable to receive Government support and have little to no idea as to when they will be back at work, despite the news that indoor performances can resume with socially distanced audiences. It will not be economically viable for many theatres to reopen whilst adhering to these guidelines and most will remain closed, with staff and freelancers in limbo.

While uncertainty remains on when theatres will be able to reopen without social distancing in place, thousands of talented workers remain with no income stream, making emergency funds focused on freelancers a vital form of support during the pandemic.

Sam Mendes said, “This fund has enabled us to move fast in response to the urgent need that is out there amongst freelancers and self employed theatre artists. But the situation is still desperate and many more still need help. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Arts Council England for this transformative contribution, which I hope will lead to an ongoing relationship with the Fund as it grows in scale and permanence.”

Julian Bird said “We are delighted that following the government’s announcement on 14th August, theatres can now proceed and allow the opening of indoor performances with social distancing measures firmly in place. This also means that pilots are permitted to go ahead and this is something we are working on to provide further potential solutions for theatres. Theatre wants to take its place alongside restaurants, galleries, museums and cinemas in being a major contributor to the economic and social recovery of the nation, as well as entertaining our audiences and supporting our local communities. However, until we have a date for reopening theatres, as normal, thousands of our workforce remain in desperate need and that’s why this fund is so vital.”

Applications are open from 12noon today and will close two weeks later at 12noon on Thursday 10 September. Find out more below!

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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.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

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In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

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.