Actors union Equity pledges £1M to support members in need, but many call for more


UK’s entertainment union Equity, which has close to 50,000 members, has pledged £1M to its Benevolent fund to support struggling members.

The money, which is being injected as a result of coronavirus disruption, comes from funds earmarked for union campaigns and the union’s reserve.

The union is asking those who can contribute to add to the fund, a call led by Oscar-winner and Equity member Mark Rylance, who we understand has donated “a significant amount”.

Equity President Maureen Beattie said, “It’s difficult enough to make a living in the entertainment business at the best of times, but now thousands of Equity members are facing the greatest financial hardship of their lives. While the government’s new scheme for the self-employed is welcome, Equity members are in dire need right now and cannot wait for all the details to be ironed out. Please support the fund if you can.”

Equity General Secretary Christine Payne added, “Equity’s benevolent fund is here to support members with payments to help them get through this crisis, we thank all those who can contribute to the fund as it will make a huge contribution to thousands of our members who are struggling to survive.”

Mark Rylance commented, “Most of us are freelance, self-employed creative workers who move from theatre to tv studio to film location to corporate training to radio to wherever we are needed, wherever a story needs to be told. Most of us are not famous, are not rich. We are hired for our flexibility, our willingness to drop everything and turn up.”

“We as a Union can begin now to set an example. A wonderful example of what our profession is truly about. Support for each other on and off stage. I am sixty this year, forty years an actor and Union Member. I hope to meet young actors when I am eighty who ask me how we supported each other so generously during the Coronavirus crisis.”

Equity reps actors, stage managers, theatre directors and designers, comedians, models, stunt performers and variety, circus, cabaret and light entertainment artists.

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