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Actors Fund Study Details Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Entertainment Industry

The Regency Theatre, closed due to
Michael Buckner for Variety

A new survey conducted The Actors Fund sheds more light on COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry.

The organization surveyed 7,163 people who sought its assistance during the pandemic. The results were announced Thursday morning.

From people who were surveyed, 76% reported loss of income, 62% lost party-time or gig employment, 50% lost full-time jobs in entertainment and 22% said they do not know when they will return to work.

The study found that BIPOC respondents, about a third of those surveyed, were likely to experience food insecurity, housing changes, increased debt and changed utility usage as compared to white respondents.

Actors Fund CEO Joe Benincasa said in a statement, “The last year has exposed how vulnerable people in our community are. We need to continue to provide critical support while the industry safely returns to work, and we intend to continue to explore ways to ensure more access to our services going forward.”

Mental health continues to be a major issue with 79% of people reporting that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. Loss of health insurance was reported by 10% of the respondents.

The Actors Fund served more than 40,000 individuals in 2020, a 71% increase in crease from 2019. More than $19 million was distributed to 15,000 individuals. “Clearly, we were able to help lessen the impact of the pandemic, but the pandemic has a long tail,” Actors Fund COO Barbara Davis said in a statement. “Now, we need to continue to provide direct financial assistance, must help more people access health insurance and receive health care, and provide mental health and other support services as the entertainment industry gradually returns.”

More than half of the respondents sought emergency financial assistance from the Actors Fund, followed by Career Center services, health insurance counseling, financial education, counseling/mental health services, housing workshops, seniors services and housing.