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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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