Fund for theatre workers spearheaded by Sam Mendes raises £1.6 million

A fund set up by Sir Sam Mendes to help workers in the theatre industry has raised £1.6 million.

The acclaimed director of films such as Skyfall and 1917 and plays including The Lehman Trilogy and The Ferryman said the money will be used to support 1,600 freelancers.

However almost 4,000 people have applied for support from the Theatre Artist Fund in one week.

Theatre industry support
(Ian West/PA)

Sir Sam 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 more.”

Stars including Imelda Staunton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Colin Firth and Hugh Bonneville have donated to the fund, he said.

Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton has donated to the fund (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sir Sam urged others to “come forward and show their support in order to help those in need”.

The fund, which was launched earlier this month, was established with a £500,000 donation from streaming giant Netflix.

Other donors include Michaela Coel, David Hare, Emma Watson, Armando Iannucci and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

Society Of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird said: “To see so many key industry figures writing cheques to support talent in great need is hugely encouraging.”

Coronavirus
(Victoria Jones/PA)

He added that more money needed to be raised to encourage people to stay in the 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 August 1 with socially distanced audiences, subject to pilots,” he said.

The Government has previously announced a £1.57 billion support package for the arts, with music venues, theatres, museums, galleries, independent cinemas and heritage sites eligible for emergency grants and loans.

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