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Amazon Prime Video commits over $6 million to support the Arts

Thu 13th Aug 2020

Production Guild buisness partner Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios have announced a $6 million commitment to support the European TV and film production creative community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations from the fund will be made to COVID-19 relief funds in countries across Europe to support the creative community as TV and film production begins to restart across the continent.

The first confirmed awards from the $6 million fund include a £1 million donation in the UK to the Film and TV Charity’s COVID-19 Response to kick-start a new grants scheme to help the industry recover; and a £500,000 donation to the Theatre Community Fund, launched by Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody to provide hardship grants to theatre workers and freelancers across the UK.

Since the start of the crisis, the Film and TV Charity has distributed more than £3.3m in financial support and launched a range of new mental wellbeing services to support thousands of workers in the UK film, television, and cinema industry. The donation from Amazon Prime Video will kick-start a second wave of support including a major new grants scheme that will focus on supporting diverse talent as the industry recovers and production resumes. Eligible individuals will be able to apply for up to £4,500 as part of a transformative package of support that will enable those hit hardest by the shutdown to remain in the industry. The charity is now calling on the industry and individual donors to come forward and add to the founding donation from Amazon Prime Video, and has set a goal of raising £3.2m, which would enable the charity to continue to provide essential services and launch this major grants scheme next month.

The Theatre Community Fund is a new initiative launched by Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody, dispersed and monitored by the Royal Theatrical Fund in partnership with the Fleabag Support Fund. The fund launched in late July with a £1 million pledge made up of donations from its founders as well as other leading names from the entertainment industry including Tom Hiddleston, Gillian Anderson, Danny Boyle, Emilia Clarke, Richard Curtis, Kit Harrington, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Radcliffe, Andrew Scott, Meera Syal, Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz [see full list below]. Amazon Studios has today donated £500,000 to enable the fund to continue to offer grants of up to £3,000 across two priority strands: 1) To help freelancers survive the present by providing hardship grants to those in immediate need, and 2) To ensure a healthy future for the industry by providing innovation and creation grants for artists to produce work.

“The creative community in Europe has been vital to our success in producing high-quality Amazon Original TV series and movies for our global audience, and it is essential for us to help that community through this pandemic,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “We’ve made our first donations of £1.5 million today to provide support to the talented freelancers from the UK’s creative community who have been directly affected by the closure of theatres and halt in TV & film production. As we gear up production on a number of Amazon Original series across the UK and Europe in the coming months, we’re committed to continuing to support Europe’s talented creative community through this crisis.”

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film and TV Charity said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Amazon for demonstrating such huge support for people working in television and film at this most difficult time for the industry. This fantastic donation to the Film and TV Charity will kick-start a new fund to support the diverse talent in our industry through the recovery process. We know that the pandemic has a disproportionate impact on people who are already underrepresented in our industry and that we must take action to prevent even greater inequality. There is a time-limited opportunity to protect the diversity of our industry for the future and I hope that others will seize this moment to contribute to our Covid-19 response.”

The Theatre Community Fund (Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody) said: “We're utterly blown away to have such an extraordinary level of support from Amazon. Our theatre community has never been more threatened or fragile and this donation, alongside those from other industry individuals, is a game changer for its future. On behalf of the Theatre Community Fund we extend a huge thank you to Amazon for the acknowledgement of the value and power of UK theatre and how we as an industry will survive anything when we hold each other up in times of crisis.”

Caroline Dinenage, UK Minister for Digital and Culture, said: "We recognise that the last few months have been difficult for many people in the performing arts and screen industries given the impact of Covid-19. This donation from Amazon adds to the unprecedented support from the UK government to help secure these brilliant industries' future and help them thrive once more."

Amazon Studios has made over 20 Original series across Europe since 2016, including UK-made global hits like The Grand Tour, Fleabag, All or Nothing: Manchester City, James May: Our Man in Japan and Good Omens; and a number across Europe like BEAT (Germany), Love Island France, Celebrity Hunted – Caccia all’umo (Italy) and El Corazón del Sergio Ramos (Spain). Amazon Studios has also announced a number of highly-anticipated dramas including The Power (UK), based on the best-selling book of the same name by Naomi Alderman, La Templanza and El Cid (Spain), Deutschland89 and We Children from Bahnhof Zoo (Germany) Bang Bang Baby (Italy), and Voltaire, Mixte (France); as well as more unscripted series including All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur (UK), Vita da Carlo (Italy), Dinner Club (Italy) Ferro (Italy) and further projects from all three The Grand Tour presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Amazon Studios has also signed overall deals to create new television content with British creators including Neil Gaiman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Steve McQueen.