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The WGA West is contributing $977,095 to The Actors Fund, the guild said Thursday. The monies are specifically earmarked for emergency financial assistance needed by entertainment professionals for basic living expenses such as rent or medical bills. The fund provides support for everyone in entertainment – not just actors – with programs designed to help with serious economic, health or employment challenges.
The money for this donation comes from undistributable funds held by the guild’s foreign levies program. The WGA has distributed over $121 million to writers and their heirs, but the union said that some funds cannot be distributed because they are not designated for a known project or writer. Foreign levies – which are different than residuals – are remitted by overseas collection societies, and specificity of data has long been a problem with the remittances.
As part of a legal settlement reached in 2010, it was agreed that, once reasonable efforts to distribute the money had been exhausted, these funds would be donated to The Actors Fund. The Foreign Levies Program is expected to generate an ongoing stream of undistributable funds.
“We became aware of how important The Actors Fund is during the 2007-08 strike,” WGA West President Chris Keyser said. “Without hesitation, the fund stepped in and provided critical services to those in the industry who desperately needed help. We are thrilled that after years of litigation the court has cleared the way for us to make this contribution to the fund’s good work.”
“The Actors Fund helped more than 12,800 members of the entertainment community last year, all across the country,” Fund CEO Joseph Benincasa said. “That help included $2.5 million in emergency financial assistance to nearly 1,600 people and almost $1 million to help colleagues in southern California. We are tremendously grateful for WGAW’s commitment.”
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