(Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

While reopening is on the horizon, the theater and entertainment community will still need financial support in the months ahead.

Since 2020, the Actors Fund has distributed more than $21 million in financial assistance to more than 16,000 people working in theater, film, television, music and other entertainment fields, Actors Fund Chief Executive Joe Benincasa said Thursday. And Benincasa cautioned that the announced return of Broadway and live entertainment does not mean the need is over. 

“I think the effects of the pandemic on performers have a long tail,” Benincasa said. 

According to a survey released by the Actors Fund Thursday, 40% of the arts and entertainment respondents reported being more food insecure during the pandemic, 28% were behind in rent or mortgage payments and 20% had been forced to change housing. 

Theater workers have “been hit particularly hard,” out of the entertainment communities, Benincasa said.

Mental health was a large area of need, with 79% of the arts and entertainment community reporting being negatively impacted from the pandemic.

The survey included 7,163 members of the entertainment community who had sought assistance from the Actors Fund across the country. Members of the theater community made up 49% of the respondents, the third largest sector, following television and film. 

The survey was conducted to pinpoint the greatest areas of need going forward. It also pointed to the displacement in the arts community, with 13% of New York City residents reporting moving out of the state. 

Loss of health insurance continues to be a concern — 10% of respondents reported losing health insurance and not being able to replace it — however, Benincasa said the Actors Fund has been able to help many Broadway and other entertainment workers find options on healthcare exchanges. 

Looking forward, the Actors Fund is concerned about mortgage and rent payments that may be collected. While the New York eviction moratorium has been moved to Aug. 31, the national moratorium is set to expire on June 30.  

Since the start of the pandemic, the Fund has helped more than 40,000 entertainment workers, including providing financial assistance grants in the form of two payments averaging about $1000 each. 

The Fund plans to propose a new strategic plan to its board to prepare for the financial need ahead.