The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a wave of shutdowns across the entertainment industry, from film shoots to concerts and music festivals.
Many crew members, assistants and other workers who have been living from paycheck to paycheck now are dealing with the fallout, as more than 100,000 workers in the entertainment industry are now out of a job.
“We are seeing many, many people in a desperate situation; the emails we are seeing are absolutely heartbreaking,” said Todd Vradenburg, executive director of Will Rogers Pioneers Assistance Fund, which helps workers in the motion picture business. “We are going to provide a little bit of relief to as many people as we possibly can.”
Here’s where to get help:
- The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has launched a COVID-19 disaster fund to provide emergency financial assistance to current SAG-AFTRA members. Assistance covers such basic expenses as rent, mortgage payments, utilities and medical bills. The union is providing dues relief to members and has detailed a list of resources on its website: https://sagaftra.foundation/assistance/disasterrelief. Foundation President Courtney Vance announced that the fund has distributed $1.7 million in emergency aid nationwide and is continuing to raise funds, he said.
- Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund. The fund says it will spend millions trying to provide some relief to those who work in theatrical exhibition, distribution or vendors exclusive to it. Applicants can apply for help by calling (888) 994-3863, Ext. 6003, or via email at the website https://wrpioneers.org. On Monday, the group joined with the National Assn. of Theatre Owners to launch a $2.4-million fund to provide financial assistance to movie theater employees. Anyone who has worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of five years is eligible.
- #PayUpHollywood, a group that has been advocating for the rights of assistants and support staff, along with several leading TV writers and others, has raised more than $500,000 for Los Angeles-based support staff affected by production shutdowns. It has partnered with the Actors Fund to provide one-time stipends of $1,000 to all qualified applicants. For application details go to: https://actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help and select “Hollywood Support Staff Relief Fund.”
- The Motion Picture and Television Fund offers a variety of services to provide emotional and financial assistance to qualified industry members. MPTF President and CEO Bob Beitcher said the group’s intake line is four times busier than usual. “The calls are mainly focused ... around health insurance, around strategies for dealing with banks on mortgages and auto payments, landlords, utility companies and credit card companies,” Beitcher said. “There is high anxiety.” Beitcher said the fund is ready to help those in the industry in need of medical, financial and emotional assistance. For further information visit: https://mptf.com or call 323-634-3888.
- The Actors Fund, which assists actors, performers and film crew workers, is offering emergency financial assistance to individuals with immediate financial needs. Those unable to pay their basic living expenses such as food, housing and healthcare over the next two months can seek help through the group’s website. For applications go to: https://actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help. The organization has distributed emergency financial assistance to more than 2,800 people and compiled a list of emergency grants available to a broad category of workers. Go to https://actorsfund.org/services-and-programs/covid-19-resource-list
- The Writers Guild of America, West has created a webpage of resources for members, including information on where they can get legal help and information on accessing health care. The union’s health plan has waived any costs for testing for COVID-19. Visit https://www.wga.org/members/employment-resources/covid-19-resources. The East Coast branch of the WGA also has detailed resources for its members. The website address is: www.wgaeast.org/covid19/.
- The Directors Guild Foundation has created an emergency relief fund with financial grants of $1,000. For more information, DGA members can call the Motion Picture & Television Fund at (888) 356-0537. The DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans also is offering premium-free COBRA coverage and supplemental pension plan loans. For questions, call (323) 866-2200, Ext. 502, or visit the union’s website.
- The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees offers members resources and information on health plan waivers for testing for COVID-19. The union donated $2.5 million to three entertainment charities, including the Actors Fund. It is also working with employers on emergency measures and lobbying the federal government to ensure that displaced entertainment workers are included in relief efforts. IATSE members should visit the website https://www.iatse.net/coronavirus-update-portal for further details.
- The Recording Academy and its affiliated charitable foundation launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help those in the music community affected by the pandemic. Individuals who’ve lost work can apply for financial relief online or by visiting https://www.grammy.com/sites/com/files/covid-19_relief_app_2020_revised.pdf.
- Teamsters Local 399 lists resources and options for members facing hardships posted on their website, including connecting those looking for work with alternative driving jobs for companies like supermarket chains Ralphs and Vons. Here is the link to the online application form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeolQqIMnavtY3LFqWNljiwVFNhqC2WW3ZDZ3rpHDGE-8D9Jw/viewform
- The Artists Rights Alliance, an artist-run nonprofit advocating for musicians, performers, and songwriters, has detailed a list of resources for music creators and others. Among them is the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, which has created a temporary fund to meet the needs of experimental artists who have had postponed or canceled performances and exhibitions. https://foundationforcontemporaryarts.submittable.com/submit/b9feb8b2-3b40-4a12-bee3-b0e71294d17f/covid-19-relief-fund-application
- Equal Sound has launched a relief fund for musicians who can confirm gig cancellations. Musicians and music industry workers affected by the coronavirus also can apply to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund for help. Phone 888-955-7880 or download a grant application form at https://www.sweetrelief.org/uploads/1/2/5/8/125899880/sr-grant-application-2011-new-logov2.pdf
- The Producers Guild of America, which includes associate producers and line producers, has offered a three-month extension to members who are unable to pay their dues. The guild has set up a relief fund with the support of a $100,000 gift from “Grey’s Anatomy” producer Mark Gordon. PGA members can apply for aid at https://actorsfund.org/gethelp.