Now that actors and other performers have joined the writers on strike, where can SAG-AFTRA members turn for help if they can’t pay their bills?
Many workers throughout the industry will be financially affected by the production shutdowns. In most states, including California, employees on strike are not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits because they are still considered employed. One exception is that employees in New York can file for unemployment after a two-week waiting period.
Because Hollywood is a gig industry and a significant number of people in entertainment work second or third jobs, striking performers may not lose enough of their income to be eligible for financial help. Most applications will require proof of significant hardship. For those in need, here are some options to consider.
SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s emergency assistance program
This fund provides financial support to members who are in urgent financial need due to an unexpected life crisis, which now includes the actors’ strike.
But the website states: “Loss of work due to a production shutdown or strike alone does not qualify an individual for a grant under this program unless the member can show that the resulting loss of work has created an immediate financial crisis or hardship.”
Members can apply here. Email email@example.com or call (323) 549-6773 for more information.
SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union loans
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The Entertainment Community Fund’s emergency financial assistance program offers emergency financial assistance to performing arts workers who are unable to pay their basic living expenses. This includes housing, food, utility bills and healthcare.
These funds are available for both union and nonunion workers, but applicants need to provide documentation to prove that they have a history of earnings as a professional in the performing arts and entertainment. Eligibility depends on how long the applicant has worked in the industry and the type of work performed.
Through this website, applicants can also apply for funds from:
The fund also offers help with health insurance coverage and mental health support. To make a tax-deductible donation to the fund, visit the Donate page on its website.
Motion Picture & Television Fund grants
Created by Mary Pickford and other top Hollywood figures in 1921, a few years before sound came to motion pictures, the MPTF is a charitable relief organization funded by contributions from the entertainment industry. Among other things, the fund offers grants to anyone working in the entertainment industry who falls on hard times.
Any entertainment industry worker with a “demonstratable financial need” stemming from the strike can apply for temporary help. Decisions about eligibility and grant amounts are made on a case-by-case basis. Counseling, confidential help and referrals to other resources are also available.
To apply, call the fund at (323) 634-3888 or toll free at (855) 760-6783, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have information about other funds that should be added to this list, email The Times Utility Journalism Team at email@example.com.
About The Times Utility Journalism Team
This article is from The Times’ Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions and helps with decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles — including current Times subscribers and diverse communities that haven’t historically had their needs met by our coverage.