Netflix funds £500,000 lockdown lifeline | Comedians eligible for £1,000 emergency grants © Richard Goldschmidt, CC by 3.0

Netflix funds £500,000 lockdown lifeline

Comedians eligible for £1,000 emergency grants

Netflix has donated £500,000 to give emergency help to comedians, actors and offstage workers left without an income during lockdown.

Those in urgent need of help can apply for a grant of £1,000 from midday today.

Designed to help those who fall through he gaps in existing government schemes, the initiative has been announced as Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden unveiled a £1.6billion rescue package for arts organisations.

 Director Sam Mendes is spearheading the new lifeline for individuals. He said: ‘Thousands of theatre professionals in the UK are struggling. Many of them haven’t been able to get help from the existing government schemes, and the situation continues to worsen. They need help now.

‘We have created a fund to which the most vulnerable freelance theatre practitioners can now apply. It is specifically designed for theatre workers who find themselves at breaking point, for those unable to put food on the table or to pay bills, or for those considering leaving the profession altogether.

‘The Theatre Artists Fund is not for buildings, or regular staff, but for freelance artists who actually make the shows that the public pay to see.

‘The fund has been initiated by a donation from Netflix and I am extremely grateful for their remarkable generosity and leadership. Although the money is initially limited, I hope that it will encourage other individual donors and charitable organisations. The more money that is donated to the fund, the more grants we will be able to give out. So please do consider a donation.

‘The fund offers quick, efficient and easy access to individual grants of £1,000 per applicant. I am well aware that this is a drop in the ocean in terms of what is required for a full recovery, but I hope it might ensure some form of survival until theatres can reopen again. I would encourage all those who need urgent assistance to please apply

The scheme is being administered by the  Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, which has issued a full list of eligible professions, including comedian and writer.

To be eligible, applicants must show they have worked in the business between the  beginning of last year and March 31, and a reference. Applications are open for a week.

Julian Bird, the chief executive of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said: ‘While uncertainty remains around the date for when theatres can fully reopen, more than 290,000 workers remain in limbo. 

‘We remain gravely concerned for the thousands of artists who have little or no income, especially those who have slipped through the cracks and missed out on the government schemes. Currently these artists are completely in the dark as to when they might be able to earn money again.

‘Our industry is an ecosystem and so this scheme has been designed to provide a short-term lifeline to the core workforce of that ecosystem, with an emphasis on supporting those from underrepresented communities.’

Anne Mensah, vice president of original series at Netflix, added: ‘British theatre is a vital cultural force, not least because so many emerging talents and original ideas begin life on the stage. 

‘Creativity is all about collaboration, and we are deeply concerned by the challenges our friends in the theatre now face, especially in the regions, and the likely consequences for the diverse voices and stories at the heart of our culture.’

‘While Netflix has been more fortunate than many, in the end we are only as strong as the people we work with. If we continue to nurture the pipeline of emerging creative talent, cultivate diverse projects and provide opportunity for the most exciting new works to be seen, we remain optimistic that the industry can bloom once again and satisfy audiences’ insatiable appetite for culture, creativity and entertainment.’

Click here to apply for an emergency grant from midday today (July 6)

Published: 6 Jul 2020

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