In March, our RTYDS Resident Director saw an immediate need to support freelancers in the arts and inspired by Amahra Spence and Luke Barnes, set up a support fund for freelancers in the arts, whose finances fell off a cliff when theatres closed their doors amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. With substantial flaws in the government’s SEISS eligibility criteria and Universal Credit restrictions, many were falling through the cracks, with little to no financial support. His personal Crowdfunder to support artists in the South West, raised just under £3000 and drew the attention of the Gane Trust.
As a result, in the following months, Tobacco Factory Theatres has been very proud to work in partnership with The Cube Microplex to administer the Gane Trust Hardship Fund for artists and arts-workers living in the Bristol area.
The priority was to offer some monetary support to those who lost work and income and were without a significant safety net.
By the end of the project the Gane Trust had provided £65000 to artists and arts-workers in Bristol, giving 130 people a bursary of £500 each.
We received 215 applicants from visual artists to writers, theatre makers to choreographers and boat builders to glass artists, who all demonstrated considerable financial need to both cover their basic living costs and to continue their creative practice.
A huge thank you to the Gane Trust for recognising the importance of supporting freelancers during this exceptionally challenging time.
The testimonials from some of the bursary recipients are testament to the great need experienced by so many:
“I’ve been living a little in crisis mode for a few weeks now so having some monetary help not only helps financially, but emotionally too, not just for me but my family also.” Visual Artist
“I can now pay for this months’ rent and bills, as well as essentials. It’s a huge weight off, to be able to continue to have a home, live, create and look for work for another month.”
Movement creative working in theatre & film
“Financial support is vital in this moment for artists from working-class backgrounds, like myself, who have no financial safety net and are unable to rely on family for financial support. It will mean I don’t have to leave the industry (in the immediate future at least) that I have worked so hard to be part of for a very long time.”
Theatre maker, writer, performer & facilitator
“I am currently stranded abroad, and this grant will help me to get home. It feels like a vote of confidence in Bristol’s arts community, which we desperately need.”
Theatre maker, director and movement director, performer, physical comedian and clown
This fund was able to support just 130 of 215 applicants, and could only offer a modest gesture of £500 to each one. Tens of thousands of artists are still without work six months down the line, with no certainty of when they might return to the profession to which they have given and sacrificed so much, and no prospect of financial support through a difficult winter.
You can find out more about the challenges faced by the UK freelance theatre workforce and how you might get involved at www.freelancersmaketheatrework.com
Posted on 14 September 2020