Composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber recently urged wealthy people in the arts to put their hands in their pockets to fund scholarships for drama schools.
The Lloyd Webber proposal was specifically aimed at creating opportunity for talented young actors from working class and ethnically diverse backgrounds get into the industry.
Now theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh who owns some of the deepest pockets in the industry has donated £500,000 from his foundation to the Theatre Artists Fund to help hard-pressed freelance theatre workers weather the financial crisis caused by Covid.
Both these giants of the theatre world know how essential it is to get their industry, present and future, and its workers back on track after a year of dark auditoria and desperate efforts to figure out how to workaround the necessary restrictions of the pandemic.
The Theatre Artists Fund was established last summer by the director Sam Mendes with the aim of offering a financial lifeline to freelancers including young performers, backstage and technical workers who have been ineligible to source financial assistance.
For many the pandemic cut their income source at a stroke and because they weren’t eligible for government support they had to seek alternative work.
The simple fact isn that some of the brightest future talents in the business are currently working for companies like Deliveroo just to make ends meet. Great that our takeaways may arrive with a degree of panache but what a waste
Mackintosh knows that it is vital to get them back into the theatre particularly as plans begin to unfold to get shows open again. However that will take a while, probably months before the West End has the majority of its big productions open again.
In the meantime eligible freelancers can apply for an individual grant of £1,000 to help pay bills and buy food. Check out the https://theatreartists.fund/ for more details.