OC Theatre Guild creates Relief Fund for theatre artists affected by COVID19
In response to the growing financial concerns of artists in the Orange County theatre community due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the OC Theatre Guild has started an Artist Relief Fund. The fund is available to all those theater artists who have had to stop work and are not getting paid, including those who were on contract, part time employees and those working on a stipend which was not paid.
Amanda DeMaio, OC Theatre Guild President, says “This virus has temporarily shut down all of our theaters and that has been an impact to all of our artists”. OC Theatre Guild recognizes that in these uncertain times, it may be months before the theater community will recover enough to bring jobs and opportunities back to the area. Casey Long, Managing Director of the Chance Theater, “Due to COVID 19, we had to close down two mainstage productions which means the amazing artists working on those shows had to stop what they were doing” and goes on to acknowledge that “there are currently no opportunities for these artists to do what they do and receive compensation for it”.
It is OCTG’s hope that, as a service organization, to step in and support artists by providing some financial assistance to those who are so vital to our stages. As Ijeoma Oluo, organizer of the Seattle Artists Relief Fund, writes, some of us are in “the rare and privileged position to be able to weather this [crisis] financially. Many are not.”
The Guild is asking for donations of any amount, from community members, businesses, and philanthropic organizations. Depending on the funds donated, OCTG is making disbursements once per week. Currently, the Guild has more applications for need than available funds.
All individual theatre artists who live in the Greater Orange County area in need of support are encouraged to fill out the online application. The Guild would like to help as many artists as possible with assistance, however this is dependent on the amount of donations received. Applications are reviewed objectively by a panel of volunteer board members from OC Theatre Guild. 100% of contributions will be allocated in support of the artists who apply to the fund. No volunteer receives any percentage.
Priority will be given to artists who reside in Orange County although artists in the surrounding areas are welcome to apply. Currently relief checks are being granted a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $1000 to each individual artist.
To date, the Guild has distributed two rounds of relief checks. One of the recipients in the first round of disbursements shared on social media “I received an unexpected and incredibly generous donation from [OCTG] just yesterday, that’s going to help more than they know until unemployment clears and we can receive additional government stimulus, etc. I’ve worked with many of their board members throughout the years, from community theatre productions outside of high school when I was just 18 to professional contracts and gigs. They are an assemblage of some of the best, kindest artists out there, and in this time of job uncertainty/hold for performers, I simply can’t thank them enough”.
Jazmin Pollinger, a stage manager who has worked at many OC theaters, reached out to the Guild to say “This money will help me pay my bills and make my rent this month! Thank you for starting this fund and helping as many artists as you can. I hope one day to be able to help people like you all are”.
A number of OC Theatre Guild members have supported the relief fund and participated in a promotional video to share online, giving the fund additional exposure. It included Jon Gaw, Technical Director of STAGEStheatre, as he shares in the video, “This is causing financial hardship for many performers, artists, designers and technicians in the theater industry”. As well as local actress Michelle Miller-Day who urged for donations by reminding people of the stakes, “I think it’s really important to give back, when I can. I’m looking forward to going to the next show I can, to feed my soul again. Because I think we all need it now.”
Donations to the OC Theatre Guild Relief Fund are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. EIN #83-3995441. The Guild will keep this relief fund open as long as artists have financial needs related to the outbreak of COVID-19 and donations are being made.
OCTG gratefully acknowledges writer and activist Ijeoma Oluo and her Seattle Artists Relief Fund, as well as the Chicago Artist Relief Fund, which was the inspiration to start this effort for the theatre community of Orange County.
OC Theatre Guild’s mission to nurture, support, and promote live theatre in Greater Orange County. The OC Theatre Guild is inclusive and open to all to join in making our theatre communities a better place for everyone, cast, crew, theatre organizations, and audiences.
The OC Theatre Guild acting Council consisting of the following Orange County Theatre community members:
Amanda Demaio, President;
Kristin Campbell, Vice President;
Wade Williamson, Secretary;
Oanh Nguyen, Treasurer; and
Brian Newell, and Jeff Lowe as Council Members
Katie Chidester, Rose London, Jill Cary Martin, Heather Enriquez, and Michael Serna are Board-Elect.