Sundance Institute Launches $1 Million COVID-19 Relief Fund

2020 Sundance Film Festival -Main street - Egyptian Theatre on January 26, 2020 -Getty -H 2020
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Sinclair and The Salvation Army also have raised $600,000 from TV viewers and Canada's Bell is donating 1.5 million N95 masks to first responders and hospital workers.

The Sundance Institute has launched a COVID-19 relief fund for indie artists, with a $1 million pot.

"This moment calls for a radical shift in strategy in the way we support independent artists in film, media and theater. We are launching a $1 million urgent fund to support the immediate needs of artists in our community, as well as other filmmakers in need and organizations that share our focus on inclusive storytelling," the Sundance Institute said in a statement Friday.

One-third of the emergency fund will support Sundance Institute-curated artists, while two-thirds will be directed to emergency support for other indie artists reached through partner nonprofit charities. Also Friday, the Sinclair Broadcast Group said a joint campaign with The Salvation Army has raised more than $500,000 nationally from TV viewers to support those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sinclair also matched the first $100,000 of donations, bringing total funds raised by the Sinclair Cares and Salvation Army: Your Neighbor Needs You campaign to over $600,000, and growing. The nationwide campaign launched March 31 was aimed at Sinclair-owned outlets, including local TV news stations, the Tennis Channel and regional sports networks. 

"Thanks to our expansive local footprint in so many communities across the country, we are in a unique position to offer assistance to thousands of Americans struggling to cope with the effects of this pandemic," says Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley in a statement.

And Bell Canada north of the border says it will donate 1.5 million N95 protective masks, valued at around $7.5 million, that it secured from global sources for use by first responders and hospital workers nationwide.

"Health care professionals, first responders and public servants of all kinds are working courageously to keep Canadians safe and well as our country copes with COVID-19, and many have been facing shortages of the protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively," Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, says in a statement.

Bell, Canada's biggest media player with extensive local TV assets, including the CTV network and the Crave streaming service, is also donating $5 million to help tackle mental health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. The new funds will be directed to front-line charities like the Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kids Help Phone, Revivre and Strongest Families Institute.

Bell's earlier broadcast of the iHeart Living Room Concert hosted by Elton John raised nearly $600,000 from local TV viewers for the Canadian Red Cross and its COVID-19 response.