Virtual gifts of giving
I had planned to write something about alternative Christmas shows and adult pantos as I have occasionally in the past, but, knowing so many people are unjustifiably deprived of any live performances from being in Tier 3 areas, I just can't. It makes me sad and angry.
And not angry because people cannot have all the pleasures and benefits of engaging with the arts in general and theatre in particular, but for all those who work in the arts for whom this means an extension to an already impossible situation.
As usual through the year, I have collected some ideas of what you might like to give or to find for yourself under the Christmas tree—with just 26 days to go before tummies get stuffed with figgy pudding, it isn't too late, though I confess that I should have finished writing this sooner. When I started, there were thirty-something days.
Then came the government's spending review and the appalling news about further performances having to be cancelled and the Chancellor's shameful lie on Good Morning Britain when he said that his team had been in touch with Excluded UK, but more about Excluded UK later.
Before getting to Christmas present ideas, though, I want to ask if you would consider receiving or giving a gift that has benefitted someone else, a stranger who needs essentials before they need an indulgence, however welcome and beautifully wrapped.
There are many organisations helping theatre-makers in dire straights and I couldn't do justice to them all, but you might consider supporting any one or more of:
- The Theatre Artists Fund - for theatre professionals who are in need of urgent and critical financial support
- The Theatrical Guild – a charity supporting backstage and front of house workers
- Acting for Others – providing financial and emotional support to all theatre workers
- The Musicians Union Coronavirus Hardship Fund – for members suffering hardship
Above all, I would encourage everyone to support their local live performance venue. The smallest spaces can be the hardest hit and are often overlooked because there are no big names with high profiles to get their names in the media and fight their case.
There is always the possibility of going halfway and buying a smaller present and combining it with a donation in their name. Or buying a gift that supports someone who is struggling.
The Alliance of Theatrical Seamsters supports self-employed theatrical seamsters as the name suggests. They have a shop selling a small variety of handmade items including face masks and tote bags.
Excluded UK is a not for profit that campaigns and supports the near-on three million people, 10% of the UK workforce, who through no fault of their own have been left out of the government's schemes.
They put those who have found themselves on the outside in touch with mental health and debt advice and counselling provision, to mention just a few of the services.
They accept donations needed to fund their work such as the #ExcludedUK and #WeMakeEvents collaboration Silent Nights, an overnight ‘sleep out’ taking place across the UK from 7PM on 19 December, but they also sell merchandise and have a Member Marketplace with a wide range of items for sale, not just for Christmas.
Those fortunate to have a subscription to The Stage could also look at the article listing theatre workers who have created items for sale such as prints, photographs and games.