SAG-AFTRA FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES COVID-19 DISASTER FUND
AND DIGITAL TRANSITION WHILE INDUSTRY FACES CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Over the last few days, we’ve all been dealing with the every changing world as best we can. I’m currently self-isolating in a Toronto Harbourfront condo unit on the 35th floor, with a balcony that looks out over Toronto Island and the lake. It’s not too bad, but it is very quiet. I’ve been writing and posting a couple of reviews of shows I saw before Broadway and Off-Broadway went dark and keeping busy with phone and Zoom therapy sessions. I’m one of the lucky ones I guess, as I’m working pretty much as regularly as normal, although this week I should have been in London seeing plays at Donmar Warehouse, National Theatre, The Old Vic, and two shows in the West End (click on their names to get linked to their donations page – we need – big time- to support these important art institutions).
It’s a sad and confusing time, but one where we need to remember and believe in the power of community and everything that theatre stands for. We need to support those who are desperately out of work now until the lights get turned on once again (think about donating to theatre companies like the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theater Company – the British theatre companies links are up above – or whichever one is your favorite. They are going to be in desperate need. Or maybe find a way to give to an out-of-work artist – actorsfund.org and broadwaycares.org – Thanks Lin-Manuel for the info). I saw a great Twitter feed where out of work actors were being asked to list their Venmo accounts so people could help them out. Such a lovely wonderful idea. Let’s all send a thank you to those who work so tirelessly to bring these productions to life day in and day out. It must be a shock to their systems to not do the thing they love to do.
On that note, I got a press release that I would love to share with you:
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation officially announced their strategy in facing the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. These plans include the newly created COVID-19 Disaster Fund, which is available to eligible SAG-AFTRA members impacted by the global pandemic, and taking many of its in-person programs online while their Los Angeles and New York offices remain closed.
The current health crisis highlights the importance of one of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s vital missions. Since 1985, the Foundation has granted over $12 million in emergency financial and health assistance, and given over $8 in scholarship grants to SAG-AFTRA artists and their families. Now, with hundreds of productions shutting down, many SAG-AFTRA artists will face even greater hardship than usual. As a result, the Foundation, along with the Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund, have created the COVID-19 Disaster Fund that is now available for SAG-AFTRA members impacted by COVID-19. The Actors Fund will assist by administering these resources on the ground.
“We’ve already seen a major spike in applications and calls for help and that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future,” said SAG-AFTRA Foundation President Courtney B. Vance, who earlier today sent out an urgent video address to Foundation members. “I am strongly asking leaders and members of the entertainment industry to donate to the Foundation so that performers and their families will be given the critical support they need.”
SAG-AFTRA members are eligible to apply to the COVID-19 Disaster Fund if they are currently active and paid up on their dues through October 2019. The Fund covers members who are in an emergency financial crisis related to Coronavirus to help cover basic expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills and other essential needs. All applications are confidential and anonymous.
As a non-profit, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation relies completely on donations. Due to these unprecedented times, the Foundation is asking for members of the entertainment industry to help their fellow artists.
“If people are in a position to step up in this critical moment and help us provide relief to those in need, we need your support right away,” said Vance. “Your tax-deductible donations will help support performers during a time of crisis. So please donate generously.”
SAG-AFTRA Foundation members seeking to apply for help, and interested donors, should go directly to the Foundation’s website: sagaftra.foundation/covid19relief.
While in-person programming remains temporarily suspended until further notice, SAG-AFTRA Foundation staff have been hard at work exploring new ways to make their programs and services available for members at home.
“Our leadership has quickly come up with plans to strengthen our digital community,” said Vance. “This includes offering many of our classes remotely, live streaming and recording new programs, expanding our extensive video archive on our YouTube channel, and generating frequent communication and discussion on our various social media channels.”
SAG-AFTRA members are encouraged to stay connected by going to the Foundation’s website at sagaftra.foundation and by following the SAG-AFTRA Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for forthcoming announcements and new content.
It is just such a good cause and welcome relief from all the news and closing press releases that I have received these past few days. We need to support one another as many isolate themselves trying to be safe or not spread this virus. I do not want to be a new version of Typhoid Mary, so I’ve been quiet and removed, slightly worried about my cough that I’ve had a few days now, but less worried because there is no fever and I’m a pretty healthy and fit man. Our world has changed quite dramatically almost overnight, but I for one have to believe that we will return somehow from all this, and sit once again as a community watching art and design stand proudly before us on stage.