Sir Sam Mendes is spearheading a fund to help people working in the theatre industry in need of emergency financial support.
The fund has been established with a £500,000 donation from Netflix.
Sir Sam said: “Thousands of theatre professionals in the UK are struggling. Many of them haven’t been able to get help from the existing government schemes, and the situation continues to worsen. They need help now.”
The fund is “specifically designed for theatre workers who find themselves at breaking point, for those unable to put food on the table or to pay bills, or for those considering leaving the profession altogether”.
It offers grants up to £1,000 per applicant and is designed to support freelance artists who have been ineligible for government aid.
It comes as the government announced a £1.57bn support package to “protect” the future of Britain’s arts.
Sir Sam said: “I am well aware that this is a drop in the ocean in terms of what is required for a full recovery, but I hope it might ensure some form of survival until the theatres can reopen again.”
The multiple award winner called for funding from individual donors and organisations, saying: “Please do consider a donation. I promise it will make a difference.”
Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said: “We remain gravely concerned for the thousands of artists who have little or no income, especially those who have slipped through the cracks and missed out on the government schemes. Currently these artists are completely in the dark as to when they might be able to earn money again.”
Theatres and concert halls have been cleared to reopen but not for live performances.
Anne Mensah, vice president of original series at Netflix, said: “Creativity is all about collaboration, and we are deeply concerned by the challenges our friends in the theatre now face, especially in the regions, and the likely consequences for the diverse voices and stories at the heart of our culture.
“Playwrights and directors, theatre artists and performers, composers and comedians, are the lifeblood of our industry too and, while Netflix has been more fortunate than many, in the end we are only as strong as the people we work with.”
Information is at https://theatreartists.fund and donations can be made at https://theatreinvestmentfund.enthuse.com/cf/theatre-artists-fund