Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman and producer Francesca Moody (Fleabag) are launching The Theatre Community Fund, which will provide grants to UK theatre professionals who have been struggling economically during the coronavirus pandemic.
Donors will contribute through initial lump sums and, innovatively, through fixed, confidential percentages of their incomes over the next two years. The fund will be separated into two priority strands giving grants of up to £3,000:
- To help freelancers survive the present by providing hardship grants to those in immediate need.
- To ensure a healthy future for the industry by providing innovation and creation grants for artists to produce work.
Among first donors to the fund, which has to date received combined pledges of £1M, are Tom Hiddleston, Gillian Anderson, Danny Boyle, Emilia Clarke, Richard Curtis, Kit Harrington, Ian McKellen, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz. Scroll down for the list in full.
The group explained that the fund “reflects its donors’ recognition that they have benefitted a great deal personally from the health of the UK theatre, and is a statement of their belief that UK theatre – nationally for all audiences and voices and down its grass roots – is vital to the strength of our nation.”
Waller-Bridge, Colman and Moody conceived the fund as a longer-term supplement to other schemes already in existence. It will be dispersed and monitored by The Royal Theatrical Fund (RTF) in partnership with the Fleabag Support Fund (FSF), which has been raising money to help theatre professionals during the pandemic. In May 2020, FSF disseminated its first wave of grants of around £83,000.
The founders of the fund said they “will continue to appeal to all performers, artists, producers and executives – anyone who believes in the theatrical arts and has benefited from them – to contribute to the fund, if in a position to do so.”
Sam Mendes recently set up the Theatre Artists Fund, which launched at the start of July with a £500,000 donation from Netflix. It received 4,000 applications in less than a month and provides one-off grants of £1,000. The fund has raised more than £1.6M to date with contributors including Michaela Coel, Armando Iannucci and Imelda Staunton. £85,000 was raised from the public.
Thousands of theatrical freelancers are currently sidelined due to the shutdown of theaters and prospect of re-opening remain uncertain.
The Theatre Community Fund, Founding Donors:
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