July 6, 2020
Subscription streaming video pioneer Netflix has heeded the call from Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) to financially assist unemployed British stage/theater workers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — jumpstarting a non-government aid campaign with $620,000 (£500,000) in seed money.
The fund, which includes fiscal input from Mendes, The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, offers upwards of £1,000 to anyone who worked in British theater from 2019 through March 31, 2020.
The funding seeks to assist personnel not covered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s $2 billion (£1.57 billion) cultural relief program, which includes independent movie theaters.
“Playwrights and directors, theater artists and performers, composers and comedians, are the lifeblood of our industry too and, while Netflix has been more fortunate than many, in the end we are only as strong as the people we work with,” Anne Mensah,VP of original series at Netflix, said in a statement.
Before joining Netflix in 2018, Mensah was director of drama at Sky Studios in the U.K. She also was head of independent drama at the BBC in a previous position.
Indeed, Netflix has profited during the COVID-19 pandemic, generating record first-quarter (ended March 31) subscription growth and users with much of the entertainment industry shutdown. The streamer reports Q2 (ended June 30) results on July 16.
Mendes, in an op-ed last month in The Financial Times, implored entertainment businesses doing well during the pandemic to contribute.
“It would be deeply ironic if the streaming services —Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, et al — should be making lockdown millions from our finest acting, producing, writing and directing talent, while the very arts culture that nurtured that talent pool is allowed to die,” Mendes wrote. “Is there anyone among those people willing to use a fraction of their COVID-19 windfall to help those who have been mortally wounded?”