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Arts Council awards £2 million to Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians to support freelancers

The fund will help support freelance theatre workers during the pandemic

Backstage at a live music venue

The Arts Council has announced further aid will be given to individual artists working in music and theatre.

Today, £2 million will be split equally between the Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians' Financial Hardship Funding programme, which will then be distributed to workers experiencing difficulties due to loss of work while the pandemic continues.

Four million pounds was given in aid earlier this year as part of an Arts Council response package, though many organisations continue to warn that freelancers are being "left behind" and that they may not see much help from the Government's £1.57bn package.

Actor and comedian James Corden spoke to Variety yesterday, saying that "does that money trickle down to the freelancers? Does it go to the trombone player working on Wicked? That's where the worry is."

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and one of the creators of the Theatre Artists Fund, said today: "Until we have a date for reopening theatres, as normal, thousands of our workforce remain in desperate need – that's why this fund is so vital, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Arts Council England for this transformative contribution."

The Fund was set up in July following a £500,000 donation from Netflix, and to date has raised a running total of £3.5 million. This money is given out in grants of between £1000 and £1600.

Simon Mellor, deputy CEO, Arts and Culture, Arts Council England said: "The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on every part of our cultural sector, but individual artists and freelancers have been especially badly hit. Supporting them is a priority for the Arts Council, and we're using our limited resources to help.

"We're pleased to invest in the Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians' Financial Hardship funding, which are providing a lifeline during this unparalleled crisis to thousands of professional musicians and theatre workers – including those from our most under-represented communities. We hope that our investment in these funds will also attract and encourage other creative industries organisations and donors to make much-needed contributions."

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