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Michaela Coel and Eddie Redmayne back campaign to raise cash for theatre workers

Michaela Coel and Eddie Redmayne (PA)
Michaela Coel and Eddie Redmayne (PA)

Michaela Coel and Eddie Redmayne are among the stars backing a campaign to raise money for the Theatre Artists Fund ahead of the anniversary of theatres closing.

They will be joined by Maxine Peake, Harriet Walter and Ruth Madeley in encouraging donations to the fund, which provides emergency financial aid to struggling freelance theatre workers.

Theatres around the country closed their doors last March amid the global pandemic and only a few were able to re-open with social distancing in between lockdowns last year.

Stars have also been revealing their ‘turning point’ – a moment in their career when they were almost forced to give up but received a helping hand.

Redmayne has revealed the turning point in his career was in 2003 when he was working in a pub and failing to land any parts before someone took a chance on him and cast him in a play.

In Coel’s video, she discusses the two bursaries she received that allowed her to pursue her creative career.

On March 16 they will be joined by more famous faces, theatre lovers and people across the industry sharing selfies in support, using the hashtags #16March, #TheatreArtistsFund and #FirstInLastOut – referencing the fact that theatre workers were first into lockdown and will be among the last to return.

The Theatre Artists Fund was set up in July 2020 by director Sir Sam Mendes, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.

It has since given out £5.5 million across 5,359 individual grants, made possible by donations from a range of organisations and individuals, including the Backstage Trust.

Thousands of people in the theatre industry have been unemployed for a year and will continue to face months of career uncertainty and financial instability, despite the provisional timetable offered by the Government road map.

Freelancers make up an estimated 70% of the sector and many are in urgent need of financial aid because they are not eligible for Government schemes, according to the Society of London Theatre.

The fund, spearheaded by 1917 director Sir Sam, launched on July 6 with a £500,000 donation from Netflix.

It counts Steven Spielberg, Armando Iannucci and David Walliams among its supporters.

It offers grants up to £1,000 per applicant and is designed to support freelance artists who have been ineligible for Government aid.

The Government has offered a £1.57 billion support package to protect the future of Britain’s arts.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fun can visit theatreartists.enthuse.com/cf/theatre-artists-fund.

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