With many theater employees and industry workers laid off around the world, thankfully, grassroots efforts are being made to relieve those furloughed or laid-off employees affected by recent cancellations. Today, Edgar Wright published an essay asking moviegoers to help the theaters they love survive shut downs. Rob McElhenney called for studios to continue to support their staff even as production goes dark. This week, with the assistance of Light Industry, Screen Slate, and other community partners, the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund was launched via GoFundMe to provide aid to theater employees mainly in the New York City community, where cancellations abound across all movie theaters and non-essential public spaces.
The overall goal is currently at $62,000, and the fundraiser is close to achieving this. The fund promises that for every $3,000 donated, it can support five people with the equivalent of 40 hours a week at $15 an hour. All hourly workers at cinemas in New York City who are experiencing wage disruption because of COVID-19 closures are eligible. As of March 17, the fund is no longer accepting new applications for aid requests, but 300 have been received, so any contribution to these funds will be allocated among those who submitted a request.
The Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund is headed by Thomas Beard, founder and director of Brooklyn venue Light Industry, and a programmer at large at Film at Lincoln Center; Ed Halter, also from Light Industry; Nellie Killian of Film Comment and Light Industry; and Sierra Pettengill, filmmaker and Screen Slate Board Member.
“Hopefully more robust public resources will become available imminently, and individual theaters that have the means will do right by their furloughed workers, but we must band together in the meantime to make sure wage disruption is minimal. We aim to begin disbursing the funds we raise on 3/20. This is a time of great uncertainty, and this initiative is only a stop-gap measure, but our struggle against precarity is a common one,” read a statement from the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund.
You can contribute via the fund’s GoFundMe page here. As social-distancing measures keep theaters shuttered, this is one way to help make sure there are still movie houses to come home to later this year.