Amazon has donated £1.5M ($2M) to two emergency relief funds aimed at supporting workers in film, TV, and theatre through the coronavirus crisis. The pledges are the first in a $6M commitment to help stricken production communities across Europe recover from an unprecedented pause in work.
Amazon will donate £1M to a new COVID-19 Response Fund established by the UK’s Film And TV Charity. This is separate to the COVID-19 Film And TV Emergency Relief Fund the charity set up with the BFI in March, and is aimed at helping those worst affected by the production shutdowns as shoots get back underway.
The Film And TV Charity wants to raise £3.2m for the new fund, under which out-of-work freelancers will be able to apply for grants of up to £4,500. Amazon is saying the new fund will “kick-start” a second wave of financing after the original funding pot of £3.3M was maxed out, with applications for support running to £5M after it opened in April.
The first fund was launched with a £1M donation from Netflix, meaning Amazon’s commitment matches its streaming rival. The BBC, Sky and WarnerMedia were also among those who originally contributed. The BFI is not currently involved in the new Amazon-backed fund.
In addition to the film and TV support, Amazon is donating £500,000 to the Theatre Community Fund, an initiative launched last month by Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody. It will help support theatre industry freelancers and provide grants for future productions. Others who have donated to the fund include Tom Hiddleston, Gillian Anderson, Danny Boyle, Emilia Clarke, Richard Curtis, Kit Harrington, Ian McKellen, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz.
Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said: “The creative community in Europe has been vital to our success in producing high-quality Amazon Original TV series and movies for our global audience, and it is essential for us to help that community through this pandemic.
“We’ve made our first donations of £1.5 million today to provide support to the talented freelancers from the UK’s creative community who have been directly affected by the closure of theatres and halt in TV & film production. As we gear up production on a number of Amazon Original series across the UK and Europe in the coming months, we’re committed to continuing to support Europe’s talented creative community through this crisis.”
Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film And TV Charity, added: “We’re incredibly grateful to Amazon for demonstrating such huge support for people working in television and film at this most difficult time for the industry. This fantastic donation to the Film and TV Charity will kick-start a new fund to support the diverse talent in our industry through the recovery process.”
Colman, Waller-Bridge and Moody said they were “blown away” by Amazon’s contribution. “Our theatre community has never been more threatened or fragile and this donation, alongside those from other industry individuals, is a game changer,” they added. Amazon and Waller-Bridge are already linked, thanks to her overall deal with the streamer.
Amazon will announce further donations from its $6M pot over the coming weeks. Similar relief funds for film and TV workers have been set up around Europe, including in France.
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