The story of The Royal Theatrical Fund began in 1839 when four actors came together and decided that something had to be done about the large number of actors ending their lives in conditions of appalling hardship and penury.
The recent development of the railway network had led to a proliferation of theatres throughout the country and an explosion in the number of actors in the profession. The General Theatrical Fund Association, as it was then called, was incorporated by Royal Charter as a pension fund open to all members of the acting profession and its first chairman was Charles Dickens.
The Royal Theatrical Fund is the only grant-making body which has no restrictive covenant applied to the nature and extent of the financial support it may provide to those in or retired from the entertainment profession.
With the passage of time, it became obvious that the terms of the original Charter no longer met the needs of the day.
The Fund was therefore reconstituted under a second Royal Charter in 1974, which enables the Board of Directors to award grants, both regular and special, to those members of the theatrical profession who require medical attention.
Since its reconstitution, The Fund’s scope of beneficiaries has been widened to encompass the entire entertainment world.
Who do you support and what support do you offer?
The Royal Theatrical Fund provides support to those that have worked professionally in the entertainment industry, for seven years or more, that are unable to work due to illness, injury or old age. The Fund dispenses more than money; applicants’ needs vary and may not just be financial. Those living alone welcome a friendly visit, a chance to talk and perhaps to unburden their anxieties. A simple telephone call can help to relieve a sense of isolation. The Fund also assists with benefit advice.
Since 2020 we have worked with and administered the funds for Theatre Community Fund/ Fleabag Support and are able to help those in financial crisis that don’t come under our usual remit.
What makes you unique?
We are not restricted with who we can help in the entertainment profession and that enables us to support a large number of beneficiaries.
Can you give an example of someone you have helped?
Thanks from beneficiaries
“This is totally overwhelming-thank you so very much-I can’t tell you the difference this will make to the next couple of months whilst I complete chemotherapy… the funds will create a gap in my brain which has recently been caught up with money issues, to think about future months in 2023 and how I can get my creative juices flowing-(one of the worst effects of chemo seems to have been creative inactivity) I am very grateful for your generous and very prompt response”
“I have to be honest; this is all very over whelming. I can’t thank you enough for the help you’ve given me.
“I never imagined something like this would ever happen to me. After the Chemotherapy and the Radiotherapy, to then have an operation that took away my ability to speak, breath normally, eat, taste, and smell overnight. To be honest it’s quite brutal. Hopefully the cancer has been taken away and I’m slowly getting stronger and stronger. I and my wife are so touched that you’ve helped us in this way, it’s hard to explain but it just helps us to breath when there is so much to deal with. Hopefully one day I’ll be strong enough to help you raise money in some way, perhaps film something for you, I do miss my work”
Has your charity had to adapt in light of the recent cost of living crisis, if so how?
We saw an influx in applications during covid but as our remit was for those ill, injured or in their twilight years, we were restricted in are ability to help those self-employed theatre workers that had lost work due to the closure of the entertainment industry, hence why we teamed up with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Francesca Moody, Olivia Colman and Ed Sinclair to administer Theatre Community Fund/Fleabag Support Fund.
What is your charity working on now?
We are currently working on a variety of campaigns to reach out to more people in our industry so they know we are here in times of crisis. We continue to extend out reach through social media platforms and marketing campaigns.
What issues are most of concern to you at the moment?
The cost-of living crisis is a big concern and we are pushing our message, that we are here for our industry in times like these. We are well prepared in how to help those in financial crisis.