Theatre Artists Fund raises £1.6m to support out of work theatre practitioners in the UK

Theatre Artists Fund, established by Sam Mendes, raises £1.6m to support out of work theatre practitioners in the UK


      Theatre Artist Fund has enough money to support 1600 freelancers to date. However this is just a fraction of the thousands more in need of urgent financial support

      Sam Mendes, The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre call on industry figures, corporations and charitable trusts to donate to Theatre Artists Fund, to provide a lifeline to those in desperate need

Theatre Artist Fund today announces that it received almost 4000 applications in just one week, from out of work theatre practitioners who have found themselves at breaking point since theatres closed in March.

55% of applicants were from outside of London with actor, director and writer being the top three most selected professions asking for help. The fund was designed to support under-represented groups who have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, as well as regional performers and craftspeople: the lifeblood of our industry.

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.Over the past few weeks the fund has grown with support from The Estate Of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders who will join Netflix as headline supporter, as well as other generous donations received from the likes of The Mackintosh Foundation, Eileen Davidson Productions,

Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Linbury Trust, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Redmayne, Sonia Friedman, Caro Newling, Colin Firth, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hiddleston, to name a few.

The fund has also received almost £85,000 in donations from members of the public and donors from across the industry, via online donation platform Enthuse, including Michaela Coel, Michael Frayn, David Hare, Nicholas Hytner, Armando Iannucci, Thea Sharrock, Mark Strong, Emma Thompson, Laura Wade, David Walliams and Edgar Wright. Individuals working within the industry and theatre goers alike are encouraged to join them in donating.

Despite this generous level of support thus far, the fund can still only provide grants to a fraction of those in urgent need of financial support. These professionals have 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 from 1 August. 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.

Until details of how the welcomed £1.57b investment package from the Government will be shared and until the industry has a date that theatres can reopen again without social distancing in place, thousands of talented workers remain with no income stream.

Sam Mendes said, “The theatre industry is 70% freelance. So we know that literally thousands more actors, writers, directors, stage managers, costume designers and many more urgently need our help. We have raised £1.6 million in this first round of fundraising, so we are able to help 1,600 people. Now we want to help many more.

This fund has enabled us to move fast in response to the urgent need that is out there. We owe huge gratitude to Netflix for kick starting this campaign, along with some fantastically generous high profile donors like The Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders, The Mackintosh Foundation, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Imelda Staunton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Colin Firth, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Jackman to name a few. However, I urge other studios, streaming platforms, business owners, philanthropists and theatre lovers to come forward and show their support in order to help more of those in need.”

Julian Bird said, “This fund is an industry initiative designed to provide a short-term lifeline to the core workforce of the theatre sector’s ecosystem. To see so many key industry figures writing cheques to support talent in great need is hugely encouraging. However, in lieu of details on how the welcome £1.57b investment package will be disseminated, we need to raise a lot more money and we need to do it fast, if we are to encourage people to stay in their professions and not abandon this wonderful sector.

We need every one of these workers to be ready and waiting as we work towards firstly, outdoor performances commencing again and secondly, indoor shows resuming on 1st August with socially distanced audiences, subject to pilots. Unfortunately a proposed review in November of social distancing for the whole economy almost certainly means that it will be too late for the major Christmas pantos and shows - we need a “no earlier than” date now to allow theatres and producers to plan properly.”




Thanks to all of our supporters, Netflix, The Estate Of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders, The Mackintosh Foundation, Eileen Davidson Productions,  Adam Kenwright, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Benedict Cumberbatch & Sophie Hunter, Caro Newling, Colin Firth, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Bonneville, Imelda Staunton, Jack Thorne, Jim Carter, Kenny Wax and Mark Bentley, Mark Knopfler, MJE Productions Ltd, Neal Street Productions, Pippa Harris and Richard McBrien, Rach Ireland, Sam Mendes, Sonia Friedman and Tom Hiddleston.

If your application was eligible but, due to limited funds we are unable to offer a grant at this time, we will keep your application on file whilst we seek further donations. If the fund is able to support you in the future, we will be back in touch and you do not need to re-apply.

For industry figures, corporations and charitable trusts who are able to contribute please email

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 Artists Fund website.

Date Published: 28 July 2020
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