In this particularly difficult time of coronavirus lockdown, it is difficult to know what to do. For those who are “lucky,” they have been put on furlough or have kept their job. What do you do if you’re a creative & self-employed person? How to actors apply for funding and support?
The problem is that the government self-employed scheme is not open yet and estimations are that it will open by June. I have outlined below the criteria for applying and you should keep an eye on it but it’s no use to people who are in dire need.
If you’re in serious trouble and you need immediate help then look at the second point which is Equity’s Benevolent fund. We are working very closely with them and want to get the message out to all who need it that there are channels to support creatives and performers in the UK.
Government self-employed support
All of the information below is taken from the government webpage: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme. I strongly suggest that if you want to apply for self-employed funding then you read through that page and apply through the appropriate channels.
There are certain criteria that actors, stage managers or any self-employed people need to fit in order to apply:
- You must have submitted a self-assessment tax return for the year 2018 – 2019. This means that you must have done some work from April 2018 – April 2019 and filed a self-assessment tax return for the money you earned during that time.
- It’s also important to note that you’ve carried on working from April 2019 onwards to April 2020. It doesn’t mean that you needed to be full time that entire period you just needed to be active and working.
- Another criterion is you have to be “trading” when you apply. However, for an actor that is out of work due to coronavirus, it’s unlikely you’ll be working this week. It just means that you have to have worked at some point this year.
- Most importantly you have to have “lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.” This means you have to prove you’ve lost out on work due to coronavirus.
It’s very important to note that only those earning less than an average of £50,000 a year can apply. Read this from the official government website: “Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income comes from self-employment.”
The way they judge that is you must have earned less then £50,000 in 2018 – 2019 tax year and half of that income must have come from self-employed sources.
Equity’s benevolent fund
At howtodrama.com we are working with Equity’s benevolent fund through our parent publishing company – Olcan. Olcan is publishing a collection of poems with 100% of the profits going to Equity’s benevolent fund.
We are passionate about helping actors, stage performers, creatives and designers through this difficult time. We are writing this to make sure that those who are struggling due to coronavirus have somewhere where they can turn to for help.
Equity is stepping up to the plate in this difficult time and accepting applications to its benevolent fund.
Who can apply to Equity’s benevolent fund?
Full Equity members, graduate equity members, longstanding past members of equity and life & child members.
What are the reasons you can claim?
One-off expenses that are essential is the normal reasons for giving grants. Usually for water, electricity or essential bills. Typical grants are from £60 – £350.
How do you claim?
Complete the application form at https://www.equity.org.uk/about/benevolent-fund/how-to-get-help/apply-to-the-benevolent-fund/
Can Equity help with my membership fees?
Yes, during this crisis we can help with your subscription in most circumstances. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there other help available?
There is help from a centralized website here for more information: https://theatresupport.info/
Spread the message
There aren’t a huge amount of people that are aware of the great work that Equity does in the UK. It’s not only important to get this message out so that people can apply but it’s also important to encourage those with the resources to donate to the fund.
For those people who are in a strong financial position and want to help support the UK creative industry during this difficult time then please consider donating to the fund: https://www.equity.org.uk/about/benevolent-fund/how-to-donate-to-the-benevolent-fund/
We will get through this by supporting each other and giving support to those who need it the most. In order to support the NHS in the UK, it’s important that everyone follows the government guidelines. However, it needs to be remembered that the pain will be felt strongest by the most vulnerable in our society.