BAFTA Throws Weight Behind U.K.'s Overstretched COVID-19 Film and TV Relief Fund

BAFTA Award - Getty - H 2017
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The British Academy has also said that, despite the current crisis, it is pushing ahead with a review of its film voting process brought on by the #BAFTASoWhite controversy that erupted earlier this year.

The U.K.'s COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, which recently saw its coffers run dry after just two weeks of applications, has received a major boost from the British Academy. 

BAFTA on Monday revealed that it was to reach out to its networks and encourage donations to the initiative, enabling The Film and TV Charity, which set up the fund alongside the British Film Institute, to create further funding rounds. BAFTA also said it was opening up its existing hardship funds to further bolster the support available. 

The fund, which was launched with an initial 3 million pound ($3.7 million) pot to distribute to industry creatives impacted by the crisis with grants of between $617 and $3,000 on offer, closed to applicants April 23 after almost 3,000 people requested more than 5 million pounds ($6.2 million), exceeding its financial limitations. It immediately put out an urgent call for more donations.

BAFTA is also set to program a series of online events and network to reflect The Film and TV Charity's priority areas, including mental health, financial well-being, and staying connected and creative, sharing research and resources with BAFTA's audiences.  

"We are proud to be working alongside The Film and TV Charity, who have already achieved so much, to provide vital support for our industry," said BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry. "With so many of our talented workforce now unemployed and without income for the foreseeable future, it is so important that we come together to help those in need, with financial as well as mental health support."

Added Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and TV Charity: "BAFTA's enthusiastic support of our COVID-19 Emergency response is incredibly valuable to us and will help us to raise awareness of the impact that this crisis is having on the talented people behind the scenes, who have been so vital to our industry's success story. It's crucial that we do more to support the financial and emotional well-being of our workforce during and beyond this crisis."

To help its members impacted by the crisis, BAFTA also said it would also be applying an automatic three-month holiday on membership payment, and extend this to its talent initiatives as well. 

Separate from the coronavirus crisis, in an email to its members BAFTA said that it would be pushing ahead with a review of its film awards voting process.

The Academy sparked angry headlines in January when not a single person of color was nominated in the main acting categories, with the hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite being resurrected on social media. It responded by saying that it would conduct a "very thorough review" of all aspects of its voting process, a review it has now said will still go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We have given a great deal of thought into how best to proceed with the review, given the difficulties so many of you are facing," it wrote.

"However, we've decided it is essential to continue this work. We know that individuals from underrepresented groups are being disproportionately affected by the current crisis and therefore, by continuing with the review, we can act swiftly on the recommendations. We hope you'll agree this is the best thing to do."