Coronavirus: Richard E. Grant, Alan Cumming Call for Income Support for U.K. Creatives

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Richard E. Grant

More than 13,000 have signed a petition by U.K. actors' union Equity, joining a growing chorus urging for support for freelancers facing financial uncertainty amid the crisis.

Richard E. Grant and Alan Cumming are among a group of British stage and screen stars calling on the U.K. government to provide an income guarantee for beleaguered creative workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Peter Capaldi, Mel Giedroyc, Simon Russell Beale, David Tennant, Gemma Atkinson, Cush Jumbo and Alison Steadman are also among the more than 13,000 who have signed the petition by U.K. actors' union Equity, joining a growing chorus of those urging the government that has already announced it will pay 80 percent of the wages of employed workers to do the same for self-employed freelancers, who make up a vast chunk of the creative sector.

“I know the deep danger the U.K.’s government are putting the self-employed in if they do not give them the same financial support they are giving the employed,” said Equity president Maureen Beattie. 

"The U.K.'s creative workers need and deserve an income guarantee," added Equity general secretary Christine Payne. "Theaters and live entertainment venues have gone dark, and film and TV productions across the country have shut down. We don’t know for how long these and many other workplaces will be closed or how many will ever reopen again."

Added Payne: "There are a number of performers and stage management currently engaged on conventional Equity contracts across the live and recorded media sectors which should be included in the job retention scheme. Many of these workers were effectively furloughed in the last few days and share many of the characteristics of those who are included in the 80 percent salary scheme."

Payne urged the British government to introduce an income guarantee along the lines of the model adopted in Norway. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the International Union of Cinemas, the body representing European cinema trade associations and major exhibitors, called for government support for theaters shut down during the coronavirus crisis.