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The Genesis Foundation launches £100k fund for freelance artists and calls for other philanthropists to follow its lead

15 July 2020

The £100,000 Genesis Covid-19 Artists Fund will provide a lifeline to freelance artists participating in Genesis Foundation programmes with the Almeida Theatre, LAMDA, National Theatre, the Young Vic and The Sixteen.


Following the recent announcement of the government’s ambitious rescue package for the arts, the Genesis Foundation today launches the Genesis Covid-19 Artists Fund to support the many freelancers involved in the Foundation’s programmes.

The Genesis Covid-19 Artists Fund adds a further £100,000 – equivalent to an extra 20 per cent – to the total annual funding committed to the Foundation’s current Partners: the Almeida, LAMDA, National Theatre, the Young Vic, and The Sixteen. Each partner organisation will then distribute grants at its discretion to best support the many freelance actors, writers, directors and performers in the Genesis network whose livelihood is threatened by the lockdown. The funding will be released in two tranches, each of £50,000, the first in July and the second before Christmas.

The Genesis Foundation was created 20 years ago and donates £500,000 a year to its partner organisations. Working closely with artistic leaders of major organisations, the Foundation has spearheaded ground-breaking programmes since its inception such as Genesis Sixteen, Genesis Directors at the Young Vic, Genesis Music Theatre at the National Theatre, the Almeida’s Genesis New Playwrights, Big Plays and the Genesis LAMDA Network.

John Studzinski, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said:

The UK’s creative industries have suffered unprecedented damage from Covid-19. Emergency aid has come from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery fund, and we welcome the government’s ambitious rescue package. In the meantime, freelancers are bearing the brunt as theatres, museums and music organisations are struck by catastrophe. 

“Our Genesis fund is intended as a lifeline to the artists the Genesis Foundation believes in. The Genesis Foundation calls for other charities and philanthropists to provide further support to this traditionally thriving sector.”

John Studzinski added:

Supporting the arts is not charity, it is an investment. The sector is a crucial driver for this country’s economy and prestige. It reinforces communities. It enhances our mental health, well-being and spiritual growth. We need artists more than ever. Let’s help them now.”

The first tranche of the Genesis Covid-19 Artists Fund will be distributed as follows:

ALMEIDA THEATRE – Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme

The Genesis Almeida New Playwrights, Big Plays Programme is an annual programme that supports emerging and experienced writers to develop new plays for larger stages, giving them the space and time to experiment with form and scale. The grant to the Almeida will be distributed equally between this year’s Genesis Almeida Writers who, for the most part, have had work postponed or cancelled which has led to a significant loss of income and opportunities. A number of writers have also had supplementary work cancelled, work that normally allows them to maintain freelance careers that give space and focus to writing.

Rupert Goold, Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre, said:

We are hugely grateful to the Genesis Foundation for its Covid-19 Artists Fund and continued generosity. These times are very challenging for the whole performing arts sector and, in particular, for freelancers and emerging artists. With the theatre closed and no box office income, it is grants such as this that allow us to continue offering support to artists such as our Genesis Almeida Writers group.”

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art – Genesis LAMDA Network

The Genesis LAMDA Network pairs a final year student on the BA (Hons) Professional Acting, MFA Professional Acting, and Foundation Degree Production & Technical Arts stage and screen courses with an experienced graduate to support them as they enter the industry. LAMDA will use the Genesis Covid-19 Artists grant to put towards the UK Student Hardship Fund it is setting up to help students who are in great need.

Sarah Frankcom, Director of LAMDA, said:

The Genesis Foundation has been a vital partner of LAMDA over the years, providing 25 three-year scholarships for students who would not have been able to study at LAMDA otherwise, supporting the Genesis LAMDA network with mentoring for graduating students and now at this very difficult time supporting our Student Hardship Fund. This will help students who are struggling financially due to the pandemic and enable them to thrive creatively in their studies.”

NATIONAL THEATRE – The Genesis Music Theatre programme

The National Theatre’s Genesis Music Theatre programme plays a vital role in the NT’s strategy to prioritise support for the next generation of musical theatre production and to enhance opportunity, structure and rigour around music theatre work in the UK. The National Theatre will be using the Genesis Covid-19 Artists Fund to support performers who have taken part in two or more workshops as part of the Genesis Music Theatre programme over the past two years.

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, said:
Freelancers are the creative lifeblood of the theatre sector, and we know they have been amongst the hardest hit during this very challenging time.
We are incredibly thankful to the Genesis Foundation for supporting music theatre at the National Theatre, and are grateful that this additional grant allows us to provide some financial support to some of the performers who have been vital in helping us to develop this important strand of our activity over the last two years.”

THE SIXTEEN – Genesis Sixteen

Genesis Sixteen is The Sixteen’s young artists’ scheme, delivered at no charge to participants, which aims to nurture the next generation of talented choral singers and create a bridge from conservatories/universities into the singing profession. The Sixteen aim to distribute the grants to Genesis Sixteen Alumni who are facing hardship and have had significant work cancelled because of the crisis.

The Sixteen Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers CBE, said:

The Genesis Covid-19 Artist Fund epitomises John Studzinski’s empathy and generosity of spirit. It is absolutely no surprise at all that he and the Genesis Foundation are extending their support in this way to members of the Genesis Foundation family.
In this time of great uncertainty, this fund comes at a key moment. Government support for freelancers and the self-employed comes to an end in August (those at the start of their career are ineligible in any case), and we are no clearer about what performance opportunities, if any, there will be for freelancers in the autumn.
Launching a career as a performer is daunting enough under normal circumstances, but for a young singer to be launching a career under the current conditions, this support could make all the difference and give them the courage to keep on the performing path. Our heartfelt gratitude to the Genesis Foundation.

YOUNG VIC THEATRE – Genesis Network, Genesis Future Directors Awards, Genesis Fellowship

The Genesis Foundation has supported the Young Vic for nearly 20 years and currently funds the two-year Genesis Fellowship, the Genesis Network and the Genesis Future Directors Awards. The aim of the Genesis Foundation’s support is that these directors should emerge from their experience at the Young Vic technically confident, grounded in their craft and able to realise their creative vision.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, said:

In recognition of the vital place the Genesis Future Directors Award plays in our support of artists we have decided to support 10 directors who are part of the Genesis Network and who work with the Young Vic’s Take Part department. We believe these grants will make a real difference to these individuals, whether they use them to enhance their practice or pay their bills – it shows that the Genesis Foundation is invested in their future and the contribution they can make to the profession as a whole.”

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