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BFI, Netflix back Covid-19 fund

The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on the TV industry

UK organisations the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Film & TV Charity have partnered to create an industry-backed Covid-19 Film & TV Emergency Relief Fund, supported by a donation from Netflix.

Established with a £1m (US$1.17m) donation from the US streamer, the fund will be administered by the Film & TV Charity with support from the BFI. It will provide emergency short-term relief to workers and freelancers who have been directly affected by the shutdown of productions across the UK.

The Film & TV Charity is still working on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding, but the fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition.

The charity said those in immediate need should apply for support via its existing hardship fund, which offers grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. This hardship fund will sit alongside the new Covid-19 fund.

Netflix’s donation forms part of its broader US$100m fund for creatives whose jobs have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, announced last week. Most of that money will go towards workers on Netflix’s own productions around the world.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film & TV Charity, said: “The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat. Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight.

“We’re entering a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health, which is why I’m incredibly pleased that that Netflix and the BFI are working with us to kick-start this new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to support workers across the UK’s film and TV industry.”

BFI CEO Ben Roberts added: ‘‘Freelance professionals are the backbone of our film and television industries, and we hope that everyone will work together to support those who have been hardest hit at this extraordinary time of need. Netflix’s early commitment to this fund is hugely welcomed and we are asking other commercial industry partners to contribute, if they are able, and play their part in helping those most in need get through this crisis.”

Anne Mensah, VP of original series at Netflix, said: “We’re proud to be working with the BFI and the Film & TV Charity to support the hardest-hit workers in TV and film production. From electricians to carpenters, hair and make-up artists to drivers, and many more, UK crews have always been vital to Netflix’s success and now we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these unprecedented times.”

In other news Arts Council England have made £160m (US$189m) of emergency funding available for a host of groups, organisations and individuals including the annual Sheffield Doc/Fest which is, as yet, still scheduled to take place in June.

Around $106m has been allocated to the council’s designated national portfolio of 828 organisations which includes Film London and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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