COVID-19 Resources for Actors, Performers, and Creators

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

As the situation around COVID-19 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—everything from applying to emergency grants to submitting the perfect self-tape for a remote audition. This guide will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

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Who is still offering financial assistance for performers during COVID-19?

The $600 in unemployment benefits coming from the federal government officially ended on July 31, 2020. Congress has been slow in approving a new version of the bill; although President Donald Trump signed an executive measure to bump state-provided unemployment by $300 or more, it doesn’t apply everywhere. “What on earth is the Senate waiting for?” Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association, asked in a statement. A petition from AEA calling for Congress to extend pandemic assistance has gathered more than 21,000 signatures. The union is also demanding a 100% federal COBRA subsidy and $4 billion in emergency supplement public arts funding. 

READ: How Theater Actors Are Surviving During the Pandemic

Beyond government assistance, there are a number of organizations still offering financial relief for performers affected by COVID-19. For an evolving list of artist relief funds, visit this crowdsourced database. The New York Foundation for the Arts has also put together a directory of emergency grants for performers and artists across the country, many of which are local and still actively accepting applications.

National

  • The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund is providing emergency financial assistance for member actors.
  • The Artist Relief fund is offering $5,000 grants to artists facing COVID-related financial emergencies. These will be distributed through the end of the year. 
  • The Foundation for Contemporary Arts is distributing $1,000 grants through COVID-19 fund. These are intended for experimental artists, and you must provide proof of lost income from a project that’s been canceled or postponed by the pandemic. The deadline to apply for the current round of grants is Dec. 1.
  • 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 Dramatist Guild Foundation Emergency Grant is offering emergency financial assistance to playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists affected by COVID-19; applications will be processed on severity of need. 
  • The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has created the Emergency Assistance Fund to aid SDC members experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Local

  • New York: Self-employed creatives across New York State can apply for grants via the Max’s Kansas City Project.
  • New York City: Real estate company Stonehenge NYC has launched “Still Standing,” a one-year residency for artists of all disciplines that provides a year of free housing in exchange for regular commissions of their work. Applications close on Nov. 30.
  • Southern U.S.: The Solidarity Fund 2.0 was organized by AlternateROOTs and provides one-time grants to artists, cultural workers, and small arts organizations across the southern United States. This cycle focuses on Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia and has three phases; the final deadline is Nov. 6.
  • Colorado: The Colorado Music Relief Fund is providing grants of up to $1,000 to musicians and music industry workers in need of emergency funds. Applications accepted through Nov. 1.
  • San Francisco Bay Area: 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. 
  • Washington, D.C.: Theater professionals can apply for financial assistance through theatreWashington’s Taking Care Fund.

What health services are available to performers during COVID-19?

For screen actors, 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. 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.

The 2021 open enrollment period begins Sunday, Nov. 1 and runs through Tuesday, Dec. 15. If you lost health insurance as a result of COVID-19, see if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, there are several funds dedicated specifically to creatives dealing with unexpected healthcare costs:

  • Rauschenberg Medical Emergency Grants provide one-time funds up to $5,000 for unexpected medical emergencies for both visual artists as well as choreographers.
  • The Basic Needs Grant from Behind the Scenes assists entertainment technology professionals in the U.S. and Canada who are seriously ill or injured.
  • The Dancers’ Fund provides financial assistance to dance professionals in the Chicago area with a critical health need. 
  • Season of Concern Chicago’s Biscotto-Miller Fund supports members of the Chicago theater community dealing with serious medical issues.

How is COVID-19 impacting the entertainment industry?

Over the last six months, the entertainment industry has been in a constant state of flux. Below we've compiled the latest news out of Broadway, Hollywood, and more.

October

Shooting in Los Angeles Is Slowly Increasing, Says FilmLA
Seventeen productions have recently wrapped filming, according to the group that distributes filming permits in Los Angeles County.

Broadway Theaters to Remain Closed Through at Least May 2021
Broadway theaters will remain closed through May 30, 2021 and possibly beyond, the Broadway League announced Oct. 9.

September

A Timeline for Theaters Reopening, According to Dr. Fauci
In an interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it won’t be truly safe for people to be in a theater without a mask until a year after a COVID-19 vaccine is released.

What It’s Like to be Back on Set During COVID-19
One actor’s experience.

A Director Shares How He’s Returning to Set Safely After Quarantine
Director Zachary Ludescher on how the pandemic affected their process—and what to keep in mind when returning to set.

COVID-19 Is Having Massive Effects on 2020 Film Festivals and Awards
We’re looking at probably the strangest festival and awards season in film history.

August

First Indoor Theater Performances Since COVID Shutdown Get Equity Greenlight
Three theaters have gotten the go-ahead—Weathervane Theater in Whitefield, New Hampshire, Music Theater of Connecticut, and Northern Stage in Hartford, Vermont. 

How Theater Actors Are Surviving During the Pandemic
A look at the different ways theater professionals are dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

SAG-AFTRA Announces Changes to Health Plan. Its Members Object
On Aug. 12, the actor's union will raise the earnings minimum necessary to qualify for health coverage.

July

New York City’s Production Hub Returns Slowly but Surely
NYC's Phase 4 marks the return of film and television production. 

A List of All the 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.
 

IATSE Reveals Guidelines for Reopening Live Theaters
The union called for an on-site compliance officer to enforce safety plans and collect employee concerns.

Reps Push Financial Relief for Performers and Venues
Two pairs of politicians are introducing congressional legislation that could impact the nation’s actors.

June

How the Entertainment Industry Is Dealing with Coronavirus
The entertainment sector is just one of the many industries forced to adapt to a rapidly shifting landscape.

May

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

April

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

American Theatre Wing President On Broadway’s Path Forward
The Tony Awards 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 coronavirus.

March

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

What should actors be doing during quarantine?

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.

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. 

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.

Singers

Child actors

 

Can I audition remotely?

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: 

What if I'm a performer in the UK?

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

UK Actors Share Self-Care Advice for Surviving the Crisis
The current crisis facing actors poses major challenges when it comes to personal wellbeing.

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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