In the latest sign of a new coalition between showrunners and crew during the writers strike, a showrunner match fundraiser has blown past its initial goal of raising $500,000 for the Entertainment Community Fund in less than a week.
The so-called Showrunner Fundraising Match was launched on Sept. 11 in an effort to help support film and TV workers who are not out on strike but have been impacted by the work stoppage that is inching closer to becoming the longest strike in the Writers Guild of America’s history.
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The idea stemmed from a group chat that has close to 500 showrunners on WhatsApp in which someone flagged that Joelle Garfinkel’s Green Envelope Grocery Aid was backlogged and low on funds to help industry members who were financially impacted during the labor strife. Within a day, the group that launched as a way to stay in touch during the WGA strike had raised north of $50,000. Inspired by the rapid fundraising, two veteran showrunners — who both prefer to remain anonymous in order to keep the focus on the out-of-work employees — reached out to 15 friends with the goal of collecting $10,000 from each. The plan, one of the organizers said, was to raise $200,000 and then quietly share the fundraiser with other showrunners to match the donations. Some of the initial 15 showrunners donated more than the $10,000 request.
As of Sept. 19, the effort has raised nearly $290,000 from showrunners including Eric Kripke (The Boys), Dee Harris-Lawrence (David Makes Man), Boots Riley (I’m a Virgo), Sierra Teller Ornelas (Rutherford Falls) and Abbi Jacobson (A League of Their Own) as well as from the general public after the link to the fundraiser quickly spread on social media and on various industry group chats. That’s more than the $240,000 that was raised by the small group that was gathered by the fund’s organizers. The combined tally currently sits at $555,000 and counting, with the list of donors hovering near 300.
“We’re in this time where there’s no such thing as too much help. That’s what this is aimed at. None of it can ever be enough. We’re trying to make a little bit of a difference,” one of the organizers tells THR. “The Entertainment Community Fund seemed to be the most broad-based and covers an umbrella of people who are not on strike themselves but who have been affected by the strikes.”
As of Sept. 15, the Entertainment Community Fund has distributed more than $7.1 million to more than 3,400 film and TV workers. The organization is distributing between $400,000-$700,000 per week compared with $75,000 per week in the first half of the year before the strikes began. Since May 1, when the WGA went out on strike, the ECF has raised more than $8.9 million from more than 10,500 donors including The Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation, Greg Berlanti, Nancy and Steve Carrell, Vince Gilligan, Seth MacFarlane, Shonda Rhimes, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw and Daniel Radcliffe, among others.
“The Showrunners Matching Campaign is an incredibly impactful example of how our entertainment community is committed to supporting one another,” says Joseph Benincasa, president and CEO of the Entertainment Community Fund. “We’re so grateful to these industry leaders for helping the fund be able to take care of film and television workers in need and inspiring so many others to contribute such generous donations as well.”
As for what’s next, the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are heading back to the bargaining table Wednesday and the matching fund will remain active. “None of this money can ever be enough, so I’ll be hopeful that a deal happens sooner rather than later and we can all get back to work,” the organizer said.
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