Support for theatre and the arts
First two bits of good news:
- The government has announced a large amount of money for the arts and theatre sector. The headline figure is £1.57bn.
Investment in “cultural, arts and heritage institutions” (gov.uk) >
- The theatre industry has launched a new support fund for individuals working in the theatre sector.
The Theatre Artists Fund >
It’s important to look at these two announcements together, even though they are completely separate and operate independently of each other.
Support for institutions
Although the headlines have been all about the government package, it’s worth remembering that it’s clearly aimed at institutions, not individuals.
The government support is explicitly NOT a stop-gap to plug holes in the Job Retention Scheme for PAYE workers. Nor will it help sole traders and single-director limited companies who are not eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
So the money is undoubtedly welcome and a rare bit of good news, but isn’t a support scheme for creative freelancers.
Given that the sector relies on a lot of freelance workers, one would expect some of the money will trickle down to the freelancers at the sharp end. But it’s unclear how that will happen as I write this on the day of the announcement.
Support for freelancers
This is where the Theatre Artists Fund comes in. This is not a government initiative. It’s come from the theatre industry itself.
The director Sam Mendes has been behind it, and Netflix have been persuaded to put some of their lockdown profits into it.
At first glance it looks like this fund will work in the same way as some of funds set up by the wonderful Film and TV Charity.
It will channel £1,000 grants to people who are in serious hardship because they’re not getting any financial support elsewhere. It is for theatre professionals in a range of job roles who have minimal savings and are
“in need of urgent and critical financial support.”
One of the main eligibility criteria is that you should have worked in theatre for
“at least 8 weeks between January 1st 2019 and March 31st 2020.”
If this is you, and you meet all the criteria, you can apply between midday on Monday 6 July and midday on Monday 13 July 2020. You should get an answer by 27 July.
[Interestingly, and I suspect completely coincidently, the deadline of 13 July is that same as the deadline for applying for the first grant under the government’s SEISS.]
And the detail?
The government scheme comes with a big fanfare, but not a lot of detail, at least at the outset. So we’ll have to wait and see how quickly the money is released, and how it will filter into the institutions it’s aimed at helping.
The Theatre Artists Fund seems well thought through and is clearly trying to help the worst-off theatre workers.
Note that the application window is only a week for this fund. But this is probably because the people running it are not sure how far the money will stretch.
The fund is asking for more donations, so expect second tranches if people follow Netflix’s lead and the fund grows.
Other support for theatre people
Don’t forget that you may be eligible for other support, even if this fund isn’t for you.
Check out the range of support funds on our Support for Freelancers page.
The government has clarified how film and TV production crews can cope with quarantine regulations.
So that’s a third interesting announcement, and it’s only Monday morning.
Posted on 06 July 2020