Fund for theatre workers spearheaded by Sam Mendes raises £3.5m

PA

Sir Sam Mendes urged struggling theatre workers not to give up as it was revealed a fund he helped set up for those struggling through the pandemic has raised £3.5 million.

The Theatre Artist Fund has so far been able to support every applicant deemed eligible with £1,000 grants, according to organisers, with the latest money available to more freelancers in need as the majority of UK theatres remain closed.

The £3.5 million total includes a £1 million contribution from Arts Council England, and the second round of applications are open now for two weeks.

Sir Sam Mendes
Sir Sam Mendes

Oscar-winning filmmaker Sir Sam said: “Hearing the individual stories of those for whom we have managed to provide short-term financial relief is a stark and moving reminder about why we created this fund in the first place.

“Their passion and refusal to give up have made us want to continue to push for more support from the public and the industry alike. So for all those out there, who are on the verge of giving up, we have one message: Don’t.”

The fund, spearheaded by 1917 director Sir Sam, launched on July 6 with a £500,000 donation from Netflix.

It offers £1,000 grants and has so far provided help to 1,600 applicants, organisers said.

The UK theatre industry has been devastated by the pandemic, which forced venues to close their doors to halt the spread of the virus.

Simon Mellor, deputy CEO, arts and culture, Arts Council England said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to contribute to the Theatre Artist 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.”

Applications for the second round of funding close at noon on September 10.