Help for theatre Freelancers

Jul 6 2020 | By More

£500K for dedicated Theatre Artists Fund

A new Theatre Artists Fund will provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK in need of financial support due to the impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector.

The fund has been spearheaded by director and film maker Sam Mendes and is being administered by SOLT, the Society of London Theatres, and UK Theatre. It has been made possible by a £500K donation from streaming service Netflix.

The fund is being fronted by Sam Mendes and set up with £500K from Netflix.

The ambition for the fund is to: “provide short-term relief to hundreds of theatre workers and freelancers across the UK, and particularly those from underrepresented groups disproportionately affected by the crisis.”

It is for theatre professionals who are in need of urgent and critical financial support due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector.

Mendes said: “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 initial offer is a £1,000 one-off emergency grant which can be used towards living costs.

The initial application period is for a week from Monday 6 to Monday 13 July 2020. Applications open and close at 12 noon. The funders say that they will aim to let applicants know about the outcome by Monday 27 July.

The grant is open to theatre professionals who have worked in one or many role/s (within the sector) totalling at least 8 weeks between January 1 2019 and March 31 2020. They must be self-employed or unemployed and not furloughed.

72% of the workforce

According to Baroness Barran, under-secretary state at DCMS, speaking in the House of Lords on Wednesday 1 July 2020, freelancers in the creative sectors make up “in the region of 72% of the workforce, compared with 16% across the rest of the economy”.

The HMRC’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is not available to anyone who is on PAYE, or who has set themselves up as a limited company. Meaning that many freelancers have fallen through the Covid-19 financial support nets already set up.

The funders have a non-exhaustive list of 27 different job titles of those who would be eligible for support, ranging from actors and assistant/resident directors, through education workers, MDs, scenic artists and stage carpenters to wigs, hair and/or makeup and writers.

Full details of the fund and how to apply are available on its dedicated website:

The fund is also seeking further donations in order to help it provide support to a larger number of freelancers. Details are here.


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