A Canadian charity known as The AFC, previously the Actors’ Fund of Canada, reported that they have disbursed aid amounting to $1.2 million to support those in the entertainment field, affected by the industry strikes occurring in Hollywood. It has been noted that more than 500 workers from the spheres of television and film have sought emergency financial relief following the initiation of the Writers Guild of America’s strike on May 2nd.
David Hope, the executive director of the AFC, made mention that the need further compounded when the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists also quit work on July 14, which resulted in more production sets closing down. The AFC is currently grappling with more than 500 applicants seeking assistance, yet the financial aid program dedicated to emergencies has been exhausted for the year, leading the organization to appeal to the general public for charitable donations.
The combined impact of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes brought most U.S. productions filming in Canada to a halt, resulting in unemployment for local talents and crews which number in tens of thousands. According to Hope, many of these individuals are gig workers struggling to meet fundamental living expenses, such as food, rent, or mortgage payments.
Hope offered insight into the misperception about the industry, stating that while it appears to be glamorous, the financial reality of the professionals – whether they’re actors, directors or crew members, is more akin to the average working person. He highlighted that it’s precarious gig work and when it disappears, so too does the steady income many relied upon to support their families.
The AFC offers a max grant of $2,000 for those most at-risk, in addition to wellness webinars and information on securing temporary employment. Stressing on this point, Hope notes that in most Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver, $2,000 doesn’t even cover rent costs. Despite the limitations, the fund endeavour to buy individuals some time to manage their personal circumstances, and find other resources to tide them through the strike period.
Also lending a helping hand, the cast and producers of B.C.-shot series “The Good Doctor” and “Fire Country,” generously contributed to the AFC. Over the past weeks, more than $10,000 was donated by the ensemble including Freddie Highmore, Paige Spara, Will Yun Lee, Daniel Dae Kim, co-creators Tony Phelan and Max Thieriot, stars Diane Farr, Billy Burke, Kevin Alejandro and Stephanie Arcila.