ViacomCBS has launched a $100 million fund to provide support to the crew members, actors, and filmmakers whose livelihoods have been impacted by the production shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Variety has learned. The funds will also support grants by the Motion Picture & Television Fund and The Actors Fund, along with the work of other charitable organizations.
“One particularly challenging area in this period has been production, as we’ve unfortunately had to pause most of our TV and film productions to protect the health and safety of our cast, crew and communities,” ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish said in a message to staff. “This, in turn, has put at risk the livelihoods of our colleagues who help bring these stories to life.”
At the same time, ViacomCBS also announced it was launching an employee matching gifts program, first in the U.S. and U.K., before expanding the program to other regions. As part of the push to encourage company-wide participation, ViacomCBS will match up to $1,000 per year of charitable contributions from full-time employees at the vice president level and below.
The shutdown in production during the public health crisis has resulted in the loss of at least 170,000 jobs. That doesn’t take into account the job losses in related industries, with talent agencies, theme parks, exhibitors, and studios all handing out pink slips while the crisis grinds business to a standstill.
“In these uncertain times, giving back and supporting the well-being of our families, communities, and ourselves is more important than ever,” Bakish wrote. “And I couldn’t be prouder of how our company has come together to provide relief and support to those who need it.”
In his note, Bakish noted that ViacomCBS has been deploying its channels and social media accounts to thank first responders and to encourage consumers to social distance.
ViacomCBS isn’t the only media company to support relief efforts. WarnerMedia committed $100 million to a relief fund, Comcast pledged $500 million to help workers impacted by coronavirus, and Sony launched a $100 million fund of its own.