Coronavirus: BBC donates £700,000 to assist out-of-work film and TV freelancers

The BBC has committed to donating £700,000 to the Film and TV Charity to assist those affected by the hiatus in filming and production caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The charity supports the UK’s film, TV and cinema workforce, many of whom are freelance and have lost work overnight because of the crisis.

Some £500,000 will go towards the new Film and TV Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, in partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI) while £200,000 will go into the charity’s two-year mental health action plan, known as the Whole Picture Programme, to address the widespread issues found in research released by the charity earlier this year.

The funds will mainly come BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial production and distribution arm, with contributions from public service commissioning teams.

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said: “Freelancers are the lifeblood of our industry, keeping our shows creatively brilliant for all audiences. At times like these it is critical we stand by them.

“We are proud to contribute to the Film and TV Charity, to support our industry’s freelance community during these unprecedented times.”

Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Studios, added: “This is a critical time for our industry, and we want to do all we can to support the talented and hard-working individuals who are so essential to our sector.

“As part of that, we are glad to back the Film and TV Charity’s important mission. I hope that this will play a part to ease the difficulties some are facing, and protect those who help to make the UK’s creative sector the envy of the world.”

The charity has said the donation from the BBC will help provide “urgent support” to those in need.

The fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition but the charity is still working on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film and TV Charity, said: “Coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the thousands of talented and brilliant people who work in our TV industry.

“For so many, their livelihoods have disappeared overnight. The financial losses are accompanied by serious mental health concerns as we enter a period of isolation and joblessness.

“This exceptional commitment by the BBC to support the Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund for workers, and also the Whole Picture Programme for better mental health in TV, will help us to provide the urgent support that is so desperately needed.”

Those in immediate and urgent need can apply for support via The Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, offering grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. This hardship fund will sit alongside the new Film and TV Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

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