SAG-AFTRA raises more than $7.8 million dollars for artists in dire need

“It’s been a spectacular showing of the performance community coming together, stepping up and supporting their own,” said Courtney B. Vance, SAG-AFTRA Foundation President.

SAG-AFTRA_Logo_Horz_CMYK_KOn March 16, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, along with the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players’ Welfare Fund, launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund for SAG-AFTRA members. Since activating the Fund, the Foundation has already given over $5.2 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 5,601 SAG-AFTRA artists and their families with hundreds of applications still in process and thousands of performers still in need.

For over 35 years, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has been a vital resource for SAG-AFTRA performers seeking emergency financial assistance. But due to what has amounted to a near industry-wide shutdown, thousands of performers have been unable to work, and many second and third survival jobs have also been eliminated during the crisis.

“It’s been a spectacular showing of the performance community coming together, stepping up and supporting their own,” said Courtney B. Vance, SAG-AFTRA Foundation President, who leads a weekly inspirational Fireside Chat video for SAG-AFTRA artists updating them on the status of aid distribution. “Our phenomenal Actors’ Council is leading the way, building a Fund that is about actors supporting their fellow actors, and the industry is giving their support, as well. Together, we have been able to grant several millions of dollars in emergency aid to thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists in need over the last three months. But with the long-term effects of production shutdowns to continue for months to come, we must remain vigilant and unified in our mission to support the performers who have contributed to the successes of this industry. They now need our support. As our Foundation is completely donor-dependent, we are asking everyone to give whatever they can, and join us in this critical relief effort.”

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund effort has been a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign led by Vance and several members of the Foundation’s Actors’ Council. The group has been working tirelessly making phone calls and sending out emails industry-wide, as well as participating in videos and signing letters asking top-level donors to join their cause. Industry agencies CAA, WME and UTA have all bolstered these efforts among their clients.

In addition, the industry has stepped up in a significant way to support SAG-AFTRA performers in need. In March, Netflix contributed over $1 million to the relief effort, and more recently, Sony Pictures Entertainment made a $1 million contribution to the Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Additional industry support has been given by AMC Networks, Anthem Blue Cross, Backstage, Berlanti Family Foundation, City National Bank, David Geffen Foundation, HFPA, Johnny Carson Foundation, Bryan Lourd, Dana Norris and Steve Tisch, and Participant.

“It’s an optimistic start, though given most productions may remain dark for several months ahead, there is more work to be done and we’re encouraging industry leaders who are able to support us to give what they can,” said Actors’ Council member Cate Blanchett, who has also been a key supporter and leader in this effort.

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides vital assistance and free educational programming to the professionals of SAG-AFTRA while serving the public at large with its award-winning children’s literacy program Storyline Online. The Foundation relies solely on support from gifts, grants and sponsorships to maintain its free programs.

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