Theatre Artists Fund open for next round of applications thanks to £1m Arts Council England contribution

Theatre Artists Fund: Round 2 of applications opens today thanks to £1m Arts Council England bringing running total raised to £3.5m

Theatre Artists Fund supported by Netflix, Arts Council England, UK Theatre, SOLT, Backstage Trust, The Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders

The Theatre Artists Fund has raised a running total of £3.5m including a £1m contribution from Arts Council England, to support theatre practitioners who remain out of work across the UK

  • Applications for Round 2 of the Theatre Artists Fund open from 12noon today and close in two weeks, at 12noon on Thursday 10th September.

  • This latest money will support even more freelancers in urgent need of financial support as the majority of UK theatres remain closed. 
  •  Sam Mendes, The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre today announce that the fund, thus far has been able to support every single applicant that applied and was eligible, with £1000 grants.

The Theatre Artists Fund today announced that thanks to significant investment from Arts Council England, the fund is now open for its next round of applications. The Arts Council has contributed £1 million to the Theatre Artists Fund, following on from the £4 million distributed to benevolent funds earlier in the year as part of its Covid-19 Emergency Response Package.

Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture, Arts Council England said, “The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on every part of our cultural sector - but individual artists and freelancers have been especially badly hit, losing work and uncertain of their future. Supporting individuals to think, plan and practice is a priority for the Arts Council, and we are using our resources to make this possible. We are complementing the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund by reopening our National Lottery Project Grants programme and will shortly be relaunching Developing Your Creative Practice. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to contribute to the Theatre Artists Fund, which is working hard to provide a lifeline to thousands of theatre professionals, including those from our most under-represented communities, during this unparalleled crisis for the arts.”

Further support to the fund has also been received from Backstage Trust, Es Devlin, Jim Broadbent, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Lee Hall and Beeban Kidron, Michelle Dockery, Peter Morgan, Phyllida Lloyd and Ralph Fiennes, as it continues to provide a lifeline to those who have remained out of work since theatres closed in March.

Launched on 6th July, the new fund, spearheaded by Sam Mendes, was established with a £500k donation from Netflix. It offers quick, efficient and easy access individual grants of £1000 per applicant. Round 1 of applications closed on the 13th July and the fund has been able to provide rescue grants to 1600 practitioners from across the UK.

These professionals have up until this point been unable to receive Government support and have little to no idea as to when they will be back at work, despite the news that indoor performances can resume with socially distanced audiences. It  will not be economically viable for many theatres to reopen whilst adhering to these guidelines and most will remain closed, with staff and freelancers in limbo.

While uncertainty remains on when theatres will be able to reopen without social distancing in place, thousands of talented workers remain with no income stream, making emergency funds focused on freelancers a vital form of support during the pandemic.

Sam Mendes said, “This fund has enabled us to move fast in response to the urgent need that is out there amongst freelancers and self employed theatre artists. But the situation is still desperate and many more still need help. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Arts Council England for this transformative contribution, which I hope will lead to an ongoing relationship with the Fund as it grows in scale and permanence.”

Julian Bird, CEO of SOLT and UK Theatre said,We are delighted that following the government's announcement on 14th August, theatres can now proceed and allow the opening of indoor performances with social distancing measures firmly in place. This also means that pilots are permitted to go ahead and this is something we are working on to provide further potential solutions for theatres. Theatre wants to take its place alongside restaurants, galleries, museums and cinemas in being a major contributor to the economic and social recovery of the nation, as well as entertaining our audiences and supporting our local communities. However, until we have a date for reopening theatres, as normal, thousands of our workforce remain in desperate need and that’s why this fund is so vital.”


Thanks to all of our supporters, Netflix, The Estate Of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders, Backstage Trust, The Mackintosh Foundation, Eileen Davidson Productions,  Adam Kenwright, Aditya and Martha Mehta, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Benedict Cumberbatch & Sophie Hunter, Caro Newling, Colin Firth, Eddie Redmayne, Es Devlin, Hugh Bonneville, Imelda Staunton, Jack Thorne, Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Kenny Wax and Mark Bentley, Lee Hall and Beeban Kidron,  Mark Knopfler, Michelle Dockery, MJE Productions Ltd, Neal Street Productions, The Parry Family, Peggy Ramsay Foundation, Peter Morgan, Phyllida Lloyd, Pippa Harris and Richard McBrien, Rach Ireland, Ralph Fiennes, Sam Mendes, Simpson Fox Associates Ltd, Sonia Friedman, The Linbury Trust and Tom Hiddleston.

For members of the public who would like to donate please go to Enthuse.

For applicants of the fund all information is available on how to apply at the Theatre Artist Fund website.


Theatre Artists Fund

All information about the fund, its supporters, eligibility and how to apply is available via the Theatre Artist Fund website.

During Round 1 processing, applicants that applied but were ineligible were directed to other funds that were better equipped to support applicants from certain sectors Eg. Help Musicians. Other ineligible candidates from the theatre industry have been encouraged to check the terms of eligibility and re-apply for Round 2, should they be able to provide the relevant information.

Quotes from Theatre Artist Fund recipients

Images of recipients available here. 

Loussin-Torah Pilikian, Actor/Producer

“At the start of this year, I had landed my dream job as an actor with Represent Theatre, a professional theatre company created to make space for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who had never been to drama school. We were a company of six performers – all now being paid to do what we love. Then, when we were told to stop working in March, we were heartbroken.

This grant has eased things for me, it’s given me a little more time and breathing space. I’m now thinking about how my skills can be transferable and I’m planning on building on a small donation-based online yoga and poetry community I’ve been nurturing over lockdown. I can consider investing in some recording equipment or lighting now, so that I can further adapt and create work at home, to try to generate a small income whilst continuing my craft. This is now my plan, at least until I know when I might be able to be a performer, in person, once more."


Amy Dolan Company Manager,

“When the Theatre Artist Fund was announced there was a real excitement across the industry as lots of people started to share news of the opportunity. Up until this moment, we had felt a massive lack of acknowledgement for our work and finally we felt that freelancers were being heard.

The past five months have been very difficult. Fortunately, my other half also works in theatre and was eligible for some Government support, so we’ve been mainly living off that. He also got a supermarket job to top that up. I’ve been doing some food delivery too to make ends meet and to get by.

This extra £1000 from the Theatre Artist Fund means that we can live, pay our rent and buy food for another few weeks.”


Femi Elufowoju jr, Director

I have never felt this valued by so many unknown angels within the profession. This grant has been a massive lifeline for which I am immeasurably grateful. £1000 constitutes an infinitesimal fraction of what I could have potentially earned to date - not nearly enough to sustain any freelancer across the five and a half months of lockdown so far. Nevertheless, the grant from the Theatre Artist Fund has proved an invaluable contribution towards specific living costs and paying outstanding utility bills. Without the fund, I would be struggling considerably more to make ends meet.”

Date Published: 27 August 2020
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