A new survey completed by comedians and other professional individuals in the comedy industry has revealed that the situation for most people working in live comedy has continued to deteriorate. In response, NextUp Comedy and The Live Comedy Association have partnered to launch the #SaveLiveComedy Fund, which will provide hardship grants to those within the live comedy industry who are most in need.
The organisers say: "It has been over a year since the first comedy shows were cancelled, with no indoor shows at all in that time in Scotland and Wales and only a small window last year where indoor gigs were allowed in England. Now, future indoor gigs are restricted until mid-May at the earliest, and with planned social distancing regulations, very few gigs and tours will be financially viable when reopening does become legal.
"The road to live comedy's recovery is long, with 57% of those in the industry believing that work won't return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 at the earliest.
"50% of the industry have given serious thought to leaving comedy because of the pandemic, with this rising to 60% of people of colour. It's for this reason that NextUp and the LCA have launched a fund which will help #SaveLiveComedy - by helping those who make live comedy happen, both on and off-stage."
Other statistics revealed by the survey include:
81% of survey respondents say their mental health has been negatively impacted by job and industry uncertainty during the pandemic.
50% of all workers in the comedy industry have lost over half of their annual income, even when including CJRS & SEISS payments (This rises to: 57% of self-employed workers; 71% of limited company owners; 74% of people of colour in the industry; 61% of disabled workers)
18% of women working in comedy believe their work will never return to pre-pandemic levels - compared to 11% amongst the wider industry.
60% of comics have made less than 5% of their pre-pandemic income from online comedy.
When shows briefly returned to some areas of England in 2020, 73% of comics saw a decrease in fees offered for gigs. For 44% of comics, fees decreased by over half.
Across the industry, 47% have been forced to apply for work outside comedy -- but a third of these applicants have been unsuccessful.
The LCA are asking comedy fans all across the UK to help support the fund, with a Crowdfunder now live for donations.
Owen Donovan from the LCA says: "The more that is raised, the more grants will be able to be awarded. The more grants awarded, the better the chances of the UK being able to slowly re-establish the thriving comedy industry it is known and loved for. With your support, we want to work to give everyone who was part of the industry in 2019 the opportunity be part of it when gigs and shows restart again".
The Fund, will distribute grants of £500 over two rounds, with the first now open for applications. It will target those most in need, focussing on those who are self-employed, unemployed, or who run an organisation that has been ineligible for any existing government support.
Paracetamol brand Panadol are financially supporting the fund too. Alex Hall, Chair of the LCA's Board, explains: "The UK's world-renowned comedy scene has faced disaster over the last year. In the past year so many of our industry, both on and off-stage, have lost their jobs, fallen through the gaps in government support and have seen their income levels halved. Over 50% of the industry have already given serious thought to leaving comedy as a result of the pandemic. We are hoping to raise as much money as possible over the next few weeks to help those most in need and are so grateful for Panadol's initial support of £25,000 towards this campaign."
Alongside the Fund, Panadol is inviting comedy fans to enjoy an exclusive three-month free trial of stand-up comedy streaming platform NextUp.