COVID-19 Resources for Actors, Creators + Performing Artists

An evolving hub for performers and creators on the latest news, resources, and updates about COVID-19.

As the situation around COVID-19 rapidly progresses, we’re faced with a barrage of information on a daily basis. To make things a little easier to navigate, we’ve compiled a list of all the resources you might need as an actor and creator. Be sure to check back often as the list will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

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FINANCES + UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment Benefits

How Performers Can Receive U.S. Government Funds During COVID-19
On March 27, the historic $2.2 trillion CARES stimulus bill was signed into law. How can actors utilize governmental funding during a time where every gig, from stage to screen, has been disrupted? 

Relief Funds + Financial Assistance

  • The SAG-AFTRA Foundation is utilizing the union’s Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund to open disaster relief funding for member actors. 
  • The Foundation for Contemporary Arts is a temporary fund for artists who have had performances canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, and is disbursing $1,000 for the duration of the closures.
  • 4Culture is now accepting applications for the Cultural Relief Fund through May 15.
  • The Actors Fund has partnered with other entertainment industry organizations to provide emergency financial assistance to those in immediate need, both union and non-union.
  • The Entertainment Industry Foundation launched a COVID-19 Response Fund to offer financial support to entertainment industry workers affected by coronavirus-related shutdowns. 
  • Artist Relief will provide rapid and unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to assist artists facing dire financial emergencies due to the impact of COVID-19. 
  • Indie Theater Fund COVID19 Emergency Grant has been established, providing rapid relief grants to indie theater companies as well as individual artists experiencing financial strain. 
  • Rauschenberg Emergency Grants provide one-time funds up to $5,000 for unexpected medical emergencies for both visual artists as well as choreographers.
  • For a comprehensive list of relief and grants for musicians, visit MusicCovidRelief.com.
  • If you qualify as a small business owner, the Chamber of Commerce is offering loans for proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals.
  • The Freelancers Union has opened a fund to support freelancers impacted by COVID-19.
  • Providing emergency financial assistance to individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists in need of funds due to severe hardship or unexpected illness, the Dramatist Guild Foundation Emergency Grant offers both a specific COVID-19 relief fund and a separate fund for other illness; applications will be processed on severity of need. 
  • If you are a dance professional who has contracted COVID-19 and have related medical expenses due to this critical health issue, get in touch with The Dancers’ Fund of Chicago.
  • Theater Bay Area has launched the COVID-19: Performing Arts Worker Relief Fund for Bay Area performing arts workers who have lost income due to the pandemic. 
  • Theater professionals in Washington DC can apply for financial assistance through the Taking Care Fund.
  • New York state creative artists can apply for grants via the Max’s Kansas City Project.
  • The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) has created the Emergency Assistance Fund to aid SDC members experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. It will provide more than $300,000 in aid to affected SDC members. For more information, visit the SDC website.

For a comprehensive, evolving list of artist relief funds, visit this crowdsourced database.

HEALTH

Health Resources

  • The CDC offers advice on how to protect yourself, symptoms to watch for, and what to do if you’re sick.
  • The World Health Organization offers advice, answers questions, travel guidelines, provides up-to-date news on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • The FDA is working with U.S. government and international partners to address the coronavirus disease outbreak.
  • The EPA offers key resources on COVID-19, including information on disinfectants and personal protective equipment.

Mental Health

  • The Actors Fund offers performing arts and entertainment professionals mental health services, information, and referrals. (Eligibility and fees apply.)
  • For mental health coping strategies and free 24/7 support, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  • For New Yorkers, the Mayor’s Office of NYC has compiled a list of remote resources for mental health while we are homebound, including options specifically for veterans, students, older individuals, people harmed by violence or abuse, people with disabilities, and more. You can find the full list here.
  • Over on the West Coast, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has compiled a list of resources for those struggling with the “normal” stress brought on by this pandemic. There, find aggregated resources for families, parents, and children, peer and community support, general mental health, and more. You can find a full list here

Health Insurance

  • The SAG-AFTRA health plan is currently offering a temporary premium reduction, virtual office visits for health and behavioral health, and no cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing.
  • If you have lost health insurance as a result of COVID-19, see if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

NATIONAL + STATE RESOURCES

National

  • A state-by-state breakdown of job protections for workers needing leave related to quarantine.
  • The Commonwealth Fund breaks down state action related to private insurance and coronavirus coverage.
  • The ACLU walks you through how to vote by mail during the coronavirus outbreak.

New York

Los Angeles

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Entertainment Industry Braces for Coronavirus Impacts—the Latest
As coronavirus sweeps across the world, the entertainment sector is just one of the many industries forced to adapt to a rapidly shifting landscape.

Broadway Shows Shut Down Over Coronavirus Concerns
Despite efforts to ward off closures, Broadway shut its doors amid overwhelming concerns of the coronavirus.

Equity Calls on Producers to Postpone In-Person Auditions Over COVID-19 Concerns
In response to the CDC’s guidelines limiting group gatherings, Actors’ Equity encourages producers to suspend EPAs and ECCs.

An Updated List of Awards Shows Canceled or Postponed Due to COVID-19
Keep up to date on this year’s award shows canceled or postponed due to COVID-19.

How Regional Theaters Are Responding to COVID-19
Across the country, theaters are shuttering—and losing money. 

American Theatre Wing President Talks Postponing the Tonys + Broadway’s Path Forward
“We don’t know what we don’t know.” That’s how the president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing Heather Hitchens puts it when asked about the future of the Tony Awards, which have been indefinitely postponed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New COVID-19 Data Reveals Impact on U.S. Artist Employment
Sixty-two percent of artists in the United States are unemployed because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the shutdowns the pandemic has caused. The survey data from Artist Relief and Americans for the Arts reveals a stark reality for an already competitive sector.

Industry Leaders—from Unions to Theaters—Consider How to Reopen in the U.S Safely
Theater leaders are beginning conversations around how to reopen their institutions after they were shuttered by the coronavirus.

 

TRAINING + ONLINE CLASSES

Stay Active While Isolated With Backstage’s Digital Seminars
From at-home workouts with certified trainers to digital vocal coaching and self-tape audition advice from casting directors to interviews with your favorite big-name actors, we have everything you need to get through this pandemic. Find an updated schedule right here

How to Keep up With Your Training + Career Plan When Social Distancing
While practicing social distancing, here are a few ways to stay busy. 

5 Benefits of Online Acting Classes
To keep your skills sharp during this unprecedented time, try your hand at online classes.

6 Ways Singers Can Make the Most of Being Stuck Inside
Singers should view social isolation as a way to hone their craft.

How to Assess Your Breathing Mechanics During the Era of Coronavirus
Voice teacher Andrew Byrne offers exercises that stretch the voice and breathing, and can even help fight the side effects of COVID-19.

How to Get Into Voiceover From the Comfort of Your Home
Voiceover professional and vocal coach Laurie Burke offers advice on how to get started as a voice actor while in quarantine. 

How to help child actors continue their training from home:

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s children’s literacy series, Storyline Online, produces free videos featuring your favorite actors reading children’s books. Storyline Online videos and activity kits provide parents at home fun educational resources in these difficult times. 

A Freelance Creative’s Guide to Navigating COVID-19
The entertainment industry has been one of the most visibly impacted by COVID-19, but here are some steps to help you get through these uncertain.

How Actors Can Stay Fiercely Proactive During Quarantine
Acting coach and Backstage Expert Joseph Pearlman shares a winning strategy for staying in the game and building career-changing relationships from the safety of your home.

6 Rules for Doing Your Own Headshot + Self-Tape Makeup
Makeup artist Bridie Coughlan offered tips on how to perfect your next headshot and self-tape look.

The 3 Most Important Elements of a Quality Self-Tape or Remote Audition
Melanie Forchetti, head of casting at Mike Lemon Casting and Backstage Expert, says that self-tapes are “your chance to make an impression and to stand out so that we can reference it later.” 

REMOTE AUDITIONS

Ready to keep working even while you’re stuck at home? Just because you can’t step into an audition room doesn’t mean auditioning isn’t possible. During this time of social distancing, Backstage has seen a dramatic increase in online remote auditions and performances that you can do from the comfort and safety of your home.

Apply today for paid remote work, send self-tape auditions, and perform from home with Backstage. New virtual auditions calls are posted to Backstage.com daily.

For tips on making sure your remote auditions and self-tape auditions are the best they can be, check out our resources: 

UK RESOURCES

Coronavirus: What Financial Help Is Available to UK Actors?
If you’ve also found yourself out of a job and no funds saved in the case of a pandemic, here are some options for financial help.

Coronavirus + the UK Entertainment Industry—the Latest
As the situation progresses, stay up-to-date on the latest in the UK

Edinburgh Fringe Is Cancelled—for Now. What Next for All Involved? 
Edinburgh Fringe is just one among a long list of events canceled at the heels of COVID-19.

This Is How the UK Theatre Industry Is Dealing With Coronavirus
The UK theatre industry responds to unparalleled circumstances with creative solutions.

Where Self-Isolating UK Actors Can Get Their Culture Fix Online
How UK actors are staying inspired while indoors. 

Still Hoping to Hone Your Acting Skills During Coronavirus?
With no place to go and nothing but time on your hands, here are 5 ways you can stay entertained from the comfort of your home.

The Essential UK Theatre to Stream During COVID-19 Isolation
It may not be a great time for real-life socialising, but if you want to see top-class theatre streamed live to your screen, right now is a golden age. 

Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!

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