Award-winning actors Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Colman, and theater producer Francesca Moody (“Fleabag”) have created the Theatre Community Fund to support theatrical artists and professionals whose livelihoods and creative futures are threatened in the wake of COVID-19.
The fund has raised £1 million ($1.3 million) so far from founder donors who include Gillian Anderson, Richard Curtis, Tim Bevan, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daisy Ridley, Danny Boyle and Andrew Scott, among many others. Donors will contribute through initial lump sums and fixed, confidential percentages of their incomes over the next two years.
The fund, which has amassed £500,000 ($651,000) so far, will be separated into two priority strands dispersing up to £3,000 ($3,900) in the form of hardship grants to those in immediate need, and innovation and creation grants for artists to produce work. It will be dispersed and monitored by The Royal Theatrical Fund (RTF) in partnership with the Fleabag Support Fund (FSF). The RTF have been working in partnership with FSF since its inception in April 2020 to award hardship grants to those in the theater profession who have been directly affected by the pandemic. In May 2020, FSF disseminated its first wave of grants totalling over £83,000 ($108,000).
“As for other fundraising initiatives, we are aware of many of them, including the recently announced Theatre Artists Fund, spearheaded by Sam Mendes,” the fund states. “We have spoken to some of those involved and cheer their work to the rafters — we need to get money into the sector through as many channels as possible.”
The U.K.’s theater sector has been brought to its knees over the last four months. Although venues have been allowed to reopen, social distancing rules limit most theaters to operating at 30%-40% of their capacity, and have forced them to stay closed. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed on Wednesday that the earliest date at which theaters can reopen is November. Producer Cameron Mackintosh said earlier this week that “Phantom of the Opera” — a West-End mainstay for 34 years — will close permanently due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
Emma Freud and Richard Curtis
Ian McKellen, Sean Mathias and ATG Productions from funds raised by Ian McKellen On Stage
Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar
Russell T Davies
Jodie Whittaker and Christian Contreras