A Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for New York City movie theater workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic has reached its goal. The Cinema Workers Solidarity Fund has racked up $74,587 in donations, surpassing the $74,000 it set out to raise. The initiative was launched a week and a half ago by Light Industry, Screen Slate, and other community partners.
“Cinema workers are finding themselves in a situation that millions of workers of all kinds are going through,” said Thomas Beard, founder and director of Light Industry, and a programmer at large at Film at Lincoln Center. “Their livelihood has evaporated overnight…We hope that this can serve as a stop-gap measure to help with grocery money and other essentials.”
The fund will help 350 people who applied for assistance by giving them $200 apiece. It attracted 1,400 individual donations, most of them in the $50 range.
“To give you a sense of the scale, if we were to supply everyone with a week’s paycheck we would have needed to raise at least $180,000,” said Beard.
Light Industry is a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, while Screen Slate is a publication that connects audiences with a broad rang of cinematic experiences. An estimated 150,000 cinema workers have been let go as theaters across the country have closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Beard said the group does not plan to continue fundraising after tonight. Instead, he’d like to shift his focus to agitating for other political action such as rent forgiveness and a more equitable stimulus package.
“This was a small community action, but we need public support on a massive scale to fully address the situation,” said Beard. “We hope that whatever bailout emerges is one that helps workers and doesn’t prioritize corporate slush funds.”
In addition to Beard, the fund was overseen by Ed Halter from Light Industry; Nellie Killian of Film Comment and Light Industry; and Sierra Pettengill, a filmmaker and Screen Slate Board Member.