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Coping with COVID: Financial resources

A geographical breakdown of organizations around the globe offering emergency relief funding for creatives.
April 13, 2020

By Apeksha Verma, Jeremy Dickson & Megan Haynes

The kids entertainment industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. While many organizations have transitioned to working from home, a number of companies—such as live-action studios—and freelance workers may find themselves in a difficult situation financially.

There are hundreds of funding organizations out there, so we’ve tried to assemble a list of companies offering financial support and resources, both on an emergency need basis, and for longer-term development opportunities post-COVID-19. This list offers a geographic breakdown, and includes support for both individuals and organizations.

North America

Netflix
Emergency relief

The SVOD giant announced a US$100 million fund on March 20 to support creative workers who have lost their jobs on television and film productions globally. The majority of the fund is being doled out to the most affected workers on Netflix’s own productions around the world, but 15% is being distributed to third parties and non-profits providing emergency work to out-of-work cast and crew in countries where the streamer has a large production base. In the US, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance will each receive US$1 million donations. In Canada, meanwhile, US$1 million is being split equally between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes. Similar efforts are being planned for Europe, Latin America and Asia.

ViacomCBS
Emergency relief 

The media conglom announced in early April that it would be contributing US$100 million to COVID-19 relief, though specific details of how the money will be distributed hasn’t yet been released. CEO Bob Bakish told Variety that funds would go to support crew members, actors and filmmakers hit by production shutdowns, as well as support charitable and grant organizations, such as The Motion Picture & Television Fund. No details about who is eligible and how they can apply for assistance have yet been released.

WarnerMedia
Emergency relief

The AT&T-owned media company has promised US$100 million to support production staff and employees currently unable to complete their work. There are few details, at this time, as to who will get the money, or how individuals can apply for assistance.

Producers Guild of America (PGA)
Emergency relief

The trade group launched a Members Relief Fund that was bolstered by a US$100,000 donation by former Guild president Mark Gordon (Grey’s AnatomySaving Private Ryan). The fund provides financial help of up to US$1,000 to qualifying applicants is being administered by The Actors Fund. Further donations will determine the longevity of the fund. Those needing to apply can so here.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA)
Emergency relief

The DGA has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to aid members who are financially impacted by production shutdowns. The Foundation is initially seeding the fund with a US$200,000 commitment as well as an additional US$100,000 donation from the DGA. The fund will provide members in need with US$1,000 financial relief grants. Members can call the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which is administering the fund on behalf of the DGA, on its hotline (888-356-0537) visit its website for more details and to apply.    

Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF)
Emergency relief

As part of its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, LA-based charitable organization Motion Picture and Television Fund is providing US$1,000 grants to industry workers facing the greatest hardships to help cover costs for rent, food, mental health assistance, student loans, mortgage payments, utilities, auto and health insurance.

NEW: Conseil des art et des lettre du Québec
Emergency relief

The French-Canadian funding body is offering emergency relief to local artists and creators, as well as to organizations, hit by COVID-related slowdowns. It also offers a list of government-supported resources for the creative community in Quebec.

NEW: SODEC
Project support

The Quebec-based body is providing development assistance by increasing its budgets to $30,000 for supported programs. It also includes animated features, on top of the previously-eligible narrative features and documentaries.

CBC
Project support

Pubcaster CBC is rolling out US$1.4 million in relief funding for Canadian-led projects across three streams: innovation, playwright and docs. Specifically within the innovation stream, producers with kids and tween/teen projects are invited to apply for a portion of the funding. Applications are open until April 24, with recipients notified in early May. Applicants must have one TV, audio or digital credit, or be partnered with an established production company, and material must be produced in Canada

Canada Media Fund (CMF)
Project support

The Canadian funding body is set to invest US$252 million in TV and digital projects in its 2020/21 program budget. Though the total financing is the same as it was in 2019/20, CMF president and CEO Valerie Creighton, said in a statement, “We hope this will provide our clients and their businesses with much-needed stability and predictability. However, as the effects of the COVID-19 virus unfold, further flexibility to the guidelines may be required.” Creators and producers can learn more about how to apply for CMF funding here.

Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA Foundation
Emergency relief

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund that is available to eligible SAG-AFTRA union members who have been affected by the pandemic. Emergency financial assistance is available for people who are unable to pay their basic living expenses, including food, housing and health care, over the next two months. Members are eligible to apply if their dues were paid through October 2019. Members who can, are also encouraged to support the relief fund through donations.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
Emergency relief

The general executive board of labor union IATSE has committed US$2.5 million to entertainment charities Motion Picture and Television Fund, The Actors Fund and the Actors Fund of Canada (AFC) to support workers affected by COVID-19. Other measures include waiving all fees for COVID-19 testing for all participants enrolled in specific health plans and extending annuity hardship withdrawals to include a new category that helps people affected by COVID-19. IATSE also launched a mutual aid program that facilitates volunteer deliveries for at-risk members, and a system for volunteers to periodically connect with members by phone.

The Actors Fund and the Actors Fund of Canada
Emergency relief

These charitable orgs support performing arts and entertainment workers across theater, film, television, music and dance. Short-term emergency financial assistance can be provided for basic needs including rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, phone bills, car payments, car and home insurance and medical expenses. Dollar amounts depend on people’s immediate basic needs and monthly expenses, and to prioritize recipients by need, people who are able to maintain their monthly expenses are asked to wait to apply, even if they’ve been laid off or are unable to work. Information on how to apply in the US can be found here, while those in Canada can apply via afchelps.ca.

Telefilm Canada
Project support

Telefilm Canada’s website provides comprehensive COVID-19 updates regarding its programs and activities. In its productions and project financing section, creators and producers can access detailed information around application deadlines for program funding and if COVID-19 affects them, what to do if productions are postponed or cancelled, including theatrical releases.


UK and Europe

ITV

Project support

To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, ITV has announced a US$615,000 development fund to help the indie sector producers. The fund is designed to accelerate new ideas and content for the channel when the current restrictions are lifted. No details have been released yet on how the money will be distributed, or how much will be earmarked for kids content.

PAUSED: The Film and TV Charity
Emergency relief

The Film and TV Charity’s support fund of up to US$615,000 is aimed at helping the behind-the-scenes professionals in the UK film, TV and cinema industry to cover essential and urgent needs. Applications closed on April 22, and are currently being assessed It will provide between US$620 and  US$3,100.  The organization is also providing support for families left in a position of care. The charity, in partnership with BFI, has also launched a COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to support the industry. This has been established with a US$1.2 million donation from Netflix, as well as an additional contribution of US$624,000 from Comcast-owned Sky. Early indicators suggest that the volume of applicants may exceed the current fund’s base, and the nonprofit is seeing further financial support from the film and TV community to keep the program going.

British Film Institute (BFI)
Project support

On top of support for programs like The Film and TV Charity’s relief fund, BFI is reallocating a number of its funding buckets to support UK projects. This includes a  US$2.4 million fund for indie projects to cover unexpected production costs, as well as US$1.6 million for exhibitors and festivals forced to close or cancel. It’s also offering an additional US$999,000 for previously funded BFI-funded films. It also has a handy list of various funds across the UK that are still open, which includes the Young Audience Content Fund.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB)
Emergency relief

The WGGB has a list of financial aid resources available for the industry across the UK, including a number of government funds organizations and individuals can apply to. Additionally, the WGGB welfare fund offers up to US$1,200 for the members requiring urgent support.

Arts Council England
Project support

As a part of its COVID-19 support, Arts Council England is providing US$192 million in emergency funding for organizations and individuals hit by the pandemic shutdown. It is offering US$62 million for organizations “with a track record of publicly funded culture” that do not receive money from the Arts Council, as well as US$24 million for individuals. Businesses may be eligible for grants up to US$43,000, while individuals are eligible for up to US$3,500. There are two application deadlines to keep it mind: April 16 and April 30, with applicants only eligible to apply through one bucket. The Arts Council will also make US$111 million available for National Portfolio Organisations (made up largely or museums, theater groups and other cultural organizations).

Creative Scotland
Emergency relief & project support

Creative Scotland’s open fund for sustaining creative development provides support to individuals and organizations and helps them sustain themselves during this time of crisis. Both individuals and organizations may apply for funding up to US$62,000.

S4C
Project support

S4C has announced a package of up to US$7.4 million  for the independent production sector in Wales. It has also allocated US$3.4 million  for a rapid commissioning round, looking specifically for new ideas. An online portal will be opened shortly with more details.

The Government of UK
Business support

New measures by the UK government are aimed at providing support to individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Detailed information on schemes and measures such as the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme, deferred VAT payments, Self-employment Income Support Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme and others can be found here.

Netflix and Italian Film Commissions
Emergency relief

Netflix and Italian Film Commissions have announced the creation of the Support Fund for TV and Cinema in the COVID-19 emergency, providing emergency support to the professionals of Italian audiovisual industry. This include US$15 million earmarked for non-Netflix productions. The details of this fund are in the process of being finalized, and will be announced on the Italian Film Commissions website in the coming weeks.

Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD)
Emergency relief

The French association of writers, in association with the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée is rolling out an emergency fund for film, TV, animated and audio-visual producers hit by the COVID-19 shutdown. Available to France-based individuals, the fund will provide up to $1,650 in emergency relief to writers who’ve seen a revenue or income decline of at least 50% year-over-year compared to 2019.

The Government of France
Business support

Business support measures by the Government of France include aid packages for small businesses, freelancers and micro-entrepreneurs at risk of bankruptcy due to COVID-19. This comprises an aid up to US$1,650 for eligible companies ,and an additional aid of US$2,200 (€2,000) on a case-by-case basis.

Additional resource lists—UK & Europe: 

Directors UK, BAFTA, BFI, Animation UK

A number of organizations across the UK and have compiled lists of helpful Q&As and links to additional resources and support not necessarily directly related to the screen industry Director’s UK has a COVID-19 FAQs page that addresses questions specific to the industry, relating to directors and freelancers. BAFTA, meanwhile, has compiled a list of all the support options and resources made available by the UK Government and industry associations for the creative sector. BFI’s COVID-19 related FAQs answer specific questions pertaining to the screen industry. And Animation UK in partnership with UK Screen Alliance has provided a resource list of vital information specific to the VFX, animation and post production businesses. Additionally, it has a list of latest government measures supporting businesses, workers and self employed.


Asia-Pacific

NEW: ABC Australia
Emergency relief & project support

ABC Australia has unveiled a US$3.1-million fund for emergency relief for Australian creatives and program development. For kids content creators, funds will be made available to support scripted/factual productions as well as used to commission new children’s music from local talent. There will also be money available to support non-kids in-development series and new concepts; individual creators who’ve not worked with ABC before. Applications open May 4 and run until June 12. 

Screen Queensland
Project support

Screen Queensland is injecting US$2 million in re-allocated funding across five key areas—continuity for productions, creativity for screen practitioners, skills, business development and screen culture. Among the initiatives is an additional US$154,000 investment in the government-owned company’s existing Ideas Program, which supports writers and producers in developing production-ready projects. A new Creative Consultations program has also been introduced to help experienced writers, producers and consultants provide online feedback and one-on-one script meetings for local writers and creators with projects in development. Information on how to apply can be found here.

Screen Australia
Project support

Screen Australia, a government agency that supports screen development, production and promotion in the country, has upped the budget allocation of its Story Development: Premium fund to US$2.1 million for 2019/20, from US$894,000 in 2018/19. The extra financing will target higher-budget productions that are nearly production-ready with existing market interest, as well as episodic scripted drama, film projects and online productions. If they haven’t already, producers who meet these criteria should contact Screen Australia’s head of development Nerida Moore at development@screenaustralia.gov.au prior to submitting an application. More financial information to help Australia’s screen industry cope with COVID-19, including easy links to government support, can be accessed here.

Sony Corporation 

Emergency relief & project support

As part of its newly established US$100 million COVID-19 Global Relief Fund, Japanese media giant Sony is looking for ways to support up-and-coming creators and artists across all sectors of the creative community, including music, movies, games and animation, who have been affected by cancelled or postponed concerts and live events, as well film and television production stoppages. The disaster relief fund is also assisting frontline medical and first responder efforts, and children and educators working remotely. Sony is dedicating US$10 million to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It’s still unclear how much of Sony’s fund will be devoted to the creative industry.


Middle East and Africa

National Film and Video Foundation, South Africa (NFVF)
Project support

Aimed at providing support to South Africa’s film and TV industry, NFVF has launched a relief program of US$275,000. Details can be found here. NFVF also opened its Calls for Funding five months early, with applications closed April 10. There’s no word yet, on whether it will open a second round of Calls for Funding, which provides aid to scripted producers in the animation, feature films, short films, and TV formats. 

Central Bank of Nigeria
Business support

To support households and SMEs affected by COVID-19, the Central Bank of Nigeria has announced US$129 million Targeted Credit Facility. While largely targeted at industries hit hardest by the pandemic (airlines, tourism and healthcare), the credit facility wil be open to small- to medium-sized businesses that generate income.

Central Bank of the UAE
Business support

The Central Bank of the UAE has announced a Targeted Economic Support Scheme of US$127 billion to support private sector organizations affected by the pandemic. The purpose of this scheme is to provide temporary relief to companies from payments of principal and interest on outstanding loans.


South America

The Government of Brazil
Business support & emergency relief

The Government of Brazil is providing three instalments of US$116 in emergency aid to informal workers, the unemployed, individual micro-entrepreneurs from low-income families and intermittent workers who are currently inactive. The aid is expected to reach more than 24 million Brazilians. The Ministry of Regional Development is also offering US$1.2 billion in credit lines to small businesses affected by the pandemic to guarantee working capital and investment resources.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list of resources, we plan on updating it regularly. If you know of additional organizations where the industry can receive financial aid, please reach out to mhaynes@brunico.com.

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