A host of top performers and theatre-makers have lent their support to a campaign for the Theatre Artists Fund, in the lead-up to the 16 March anniversary of UK theatres closing due to the pandemic.
Stars including Michaela Coel, Eddie Redmayne, Maxine Peake, Harriet Walter and Ruth Madeley are revealing their ‘turning point’ – a moment in their career when they were almost forced to give up but received a vital helping hand – to encourage public donations for the Theatre Artists Fund, which provides emergency financial aid to struggling freelance theatre workers. The latest video, from Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson, has just been released.
On 16 March 2021, they will be joined by more famous faces, theatre lovers and people across the industry sharing selfies in support, using the hashtags #16March, #TheatreArtistsFund and #FirstInLastOut – referencing the fact that theatre workers were first into lockdown and will be among the last to return.
Despite the provisional timetable offered by the Government roadmap, thousands in the theatre industry have been unemployed for a year, and will continue to face months of career uncertainty and financial instability. Freelancers, who make up an estimated 70% of the sector, have largely been overlooked by Government support schemes. Many are in urgent need of financial aid to pay bills and put food on the table.
The Theatre Artists Fund was set up in July 2020 by director Sam Mendes, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre. It has since given out £5.5 million across 5,359 individual grants, made possible by donations from a range of organisations and individuals. Most recently, previous benefactor the Backstage Trust has made a substantial new contribution.
The demand for emergency aid is still so high, however, that the Fund must raise at least £750,000 a month, with every penny going directly to those in need. Public donations are more crucial than ever to keep the Fund going.
Anyone wishing to donate can visit theatreartists.enthuse.com/cf/theatre-artists-fund.