16 March 2021. Is it just another day, at most an artificial milestone in our theatre-making or theatre-going lives?
Right now, the date feels heavy with significance—a year since theatres were forced to close for the common good—but ten years from now we won't remember 16 March 2021. The date etched on our personal and collective memory will be that of a year earlier.
Many of us will remember the start of the theatre darkness long after house lights invite audiences back into venues, but its first anniversary will be consigned to insignificance.
In the meantime, though, Tuesday is burdened with immediate meaning. But at the same time, there is also an emptiness to it—we are no further forward with the government’s roadmap providing little except continuing uncertainty.
If there is going to be any purpose to it, we need to mark the day on Tuesday to remember those who have endured untold suffering for the previous 364. And for whom it isn't over. Long COVID isn't just a health condition.
The work of the Theatre Artists Fund continues. Launched last July to support industry freelancers with emergency £1,000 grants, it is still fundraising and building up awareness of this sad anniversary with a host of big-name professionals sharing a turning point of their professional lives. The first of these are on the web site and look for the hashtag #FirstInLastOut for others to be released shortly.
Likewise, The Make A Difference Trust re-purposed its Emergency Fund in May making it the MAD Trust COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund to help those in the theatre industry experiencing hardship.
To mark Tuesday and raise funds, the MAD Trust is also releasing a charity single, "I Dare You". The Kelly Clarkson cover, which includes a video, features a dazzling array of musical theatre stars representing shows that should have been running. They include Samantha Barks, Sharon D Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Shaun Escoffery, Aisha Jawando, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Jamie Muscato, Eva Noblezada, Oliver Tompsett, Faye Tozer, Sally Ann Triplett, Rachel Tucker, Marisha Wallace and Layton Williams.
For a more personal touch, you could support your local theatre or performance company; if you cannot do so financially, they may welcome your skills and time.
Many have been able to support artists creating digital work and/or have 'diversified', using their resources as food distribution hubs and delivering mental health initiatives. Volunteers will also be welcome as they start to reopen.
The organisations most in need may not be the ones with high street sites or big billboards. The Public Campaign for the Arts has created a valuable map funded entirely by small public donations. Since September, it allows anyone to find and contact the arts companies near them.
If Tuesday means anything, it is a rallying point, high ground that allows us to look both back across the last year and forwards in hope if not in certainty.
Looking is good but action is better. Is there a reason not to help?
The Theatre Artists Fund
- visit the web site
- donate £10 by text—text THEATREFUND 10 to 70470 (texts cost the amount you donate plus one standard rate message); to donate without opting in for further communications from them, text THEATREFUNDNOINFO followed by your chosen amount.
The Make A Difference Trust
Your local venue or company
- make a donation
- offer them your support