COVID-19 Relief Fund for U.K. Film, TV Workers Launches With $3M Pot

Alex Pumfrey - H - 2020
Credit: The Film and TV Charity

Film and TV Charity CEO Alex Pumfrey

Set up by the British Film Institute and the Film and TV Charity with donations from Netflix, WarnerMedia and the BBC, among others, the fund will offer one-off grants to those impacted by the pandemic.

The U.K.'s COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, unveiled last month by the British Film Institute and the Film and TV Charity, has now launched with an initial £2.5 million ($3 million) pot to distribute to industry creatives impacted by the crisis. 

Announced with a $1.2 million donation from Netflix, the fund has since received financial support from the BFI, BBC Studios, BBC Content, WarnerMedia and several individuals. 

The time-limited fund — applications will remain open for two weeks — is being administered by the Film and TV Charity, with support from BFI staff. The Film and TV Charity and the BFI is covering all overheads, enabling donations to go directly to eligible workers and freelancers across film, TV and cinema. One-off grants of between $617 and $3,000 will be awarded based on need.

The launch comes just as a new survey by the Film and TV Charity revealed that more than nine in 10 (93 percent) of freelancers in the U.K. are no longer working due to the pandemic, with three-quarters (74 percent) not expected to qualify for either of the British government's financial support schemes. Last week, the U.K.'s major broadcasters all urged the government to help those workers in the industry who "fall through the cracks" of these schemes. 

Three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents said they were very or extremely worried about their income in coming months while nearly half (45 percent) said they were worried about meeting basic living costs.

“Unprecedented times call for an exceptional response," said Film and TV Charity CEO Alex Pumfrey. "The COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund is unique, time-limited and designed to provide financial support where the need is most acute. Our systems will highlight applicants who are experiencing particular distress and our experienced team will respond to those red flags with personal follow-up calls."

Added BFI CEO Ben Roberts: “We know a huge number of freelance professionals in our community have been some of the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, so we are delighted that the fund is now open for applications. We are also incredibly thankful for the generosity shown by industry partners and individuals who have stepped in so far to support their colleagues."

Alongside the fund, the Film and TV Charity has also launched the COVID-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme, offering financial aid for industry freelancers waiting for payments under the government's self-employment income support scheme. Interest-free grants of up to $2,500 will be offered to those eligible for the support but who are struggling with the wait for payments in June.