The Actors Fund has received more than 10,000 assistance requests since March 13, “and that number grows by the day,” the Fund said. It noted that the $14 million it has raised to help those in the industry who have been left jobless is still 30% short of the more than $20 million needed in the short-term to support its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
“Emergency financial assistance is by far the greatest need at this time,” the Fund said in a recap of its relief efforts. As of Monday, it had provided nearly $4 million to 3,282 individuals in need. The emergency fund currently is screening and processing more than 200 assistance requests a day, and is providing an average of $250,000 in assistance every day. To put this in perspective, the Fund normally manages about 60-70 per week.
The Fund also said in its recap:
“Applicants are frightened and feel helpless. Many were blindsided in the middle of a run about to start or shut down in the middle of production, and suddenly all their sources of revenue dried up at once. “The majority are reaching out for immediate assistance paying their bills: rent, utilities, essential medications and health insurance.
“The performing arts and entertainment community faces an unprecedented challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. With film, television, theater, dance, music and opera productions shuttered for weeks, thousands of professionals in these fields have been abruptly cut off from their primary – and, often, secondary – income sources without any opportunity to make a living. Episodic workers in the entertainment community rely on sideline careers in the hospitality industry, as educators, and even as dog-walkers – leaving actors, screenwriters, stagehands, dancers, designers and directors in crisis as restaurants close and students and office workers are required to shelter at home.”
“Thanks to an outpouring of generosity from union / industry partners and individual supporters, we are 70% of the way to our goal; but there is still a gap in funding needed to meet the short-term goal of helping our community through this crisis, as well as the long-term goal of ensuring we are there to meet the continued needs whenever the industry re-opens.”
In its recap, the Fund cited just a few of the hundreds of people that have received assistance from the emergency relief fund, including:
• A couple, both theater actors, with two small children and one on the way, who received financial assistance towards food and rent.
• A diabetic musician who lost his all of his gigs received funds for his April health insurance premium.
• A director, who recently moved back to New York and was staying with friends, found out she was exposed to someone with COVID-19, so the Fund helped her secure temporary housing to allow her to isolate.
It also cited a few of the contributors to the Fund’s relief efforts, including:
• Rosie O’Donnell, who hosted a one-night-only reboot of her award-winning interview show, via teleconferencing, of course, that raised more than $627,000 on March 22.
• Emily Hampshire, star of Schitt’s Creek, who created a new weekly live-streamed talk show, Humpday with Hampshire, to raise money for the Fund.
• Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, who launched a twice-daily livestream program called Stars in the House that features a mix of Broadway stars checking in from home, and medical information from CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook.
• Andrew Barth Feldman, star of Dear Evan Hansen, and Alex Boniello, the Tony Award-winning producer, who played Jackbox games with their Broadway pals, raising money for The Fund through donations from viewers.
The Fund also thanked the many unions and organizations that have made contributions to its relief efforts, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, TikTok, ViacomCBS, IATSE International, Netflix, SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association, Hollywood Support Staff Relief Fund, WarnerMedia, Writers Guild of America West, American Guild of Musical Artists, Howard Gilman Foundation, It Takes Our Village, and the Producers Guild of America.