Inevitable Foundation is launching an Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial assistance amid the Writers Guild of America strike.
Created in response to the first WGA work stoppage in 15 years and designed to support union and non-union writers with disabilities through major industry crises like the current strike, the fund will immediately begin offering unrestricted, responsive cash grants, the nonprofit announced Thursday. For the first round of funding, which will take place May 11-21, the foundation will distribute grants starting at $500 for writers expected to lose income and job opportunities.
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For the nonprofit, which does not have a formal relationship with the WGA, the fund serves as a way to remain “responsive to the negative impacts of a strike on the careers of disabled writers both inside and outside the union since non-union writers are also impacted and face work stoppages,” the foundation said in a statement.
The relief fund will provide individual support for the industry’s disabled scribes who are among the 25 percent of the U.S. population that identifies as a person with a disability — a community that is twice as likely to live in poverty and has a 28 percent higher cost of living average than non-disabled people. (The foundation, which currently has tens of thousands of dollars ready to distribute, estimates that there are at least 100 mid and upper-level writers currently working in Hollywood.)
“We’re stepping into an emergency situation and a crisis for this workforce that is unfortunately at a large disadvantage in terms of money, survival, housing and healthcare,” Inevitable co-founder Richer Siegel tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But we don’t necessarily want to be doing this for the foreseeable future. The hope is that we can continue to be responsive in meaningful ways to a large group of the disabled writers in this community that are most affected by this crisis that is, hopefully, resolved soon.”
The Emergency Relief Fund will not only offer support to an already historically vulnerable community facing lost wages and an impending loss of healthcare, but act as a backstop for creatives, ensuring they aren’t forced to leave the industry because they are unable to pay their bills.
The fund will last an undetermined period of time with grants presently one-time only. However, there is potential for both new writers and first round recipients to apply in the future, as well as for the grant amounts to grow in later rounds dependent on the duration of the strike, which began May 2. (The last WGA strike lasted 100 days.)
Grant eligibility is based on several factors, with priority going to union members. WGA members working as of May 1 and who demonstrate financial need according to Inevitable’s assessment will be considered first. They will be followed by union members who were on the verge of securing work — final interviews, in negotiations or in the contracts stage — and then WGA members not employed or on the verge of securing employment as of the work stoppage. Non-WGA members who were working as of May 1 will take next priority, and finally non-union writers on the verge of securing work.
The Emergency Relief Fund’s launch follows Inevitable’s recent writers strike report, which surveyed more than 30 scribes with various disabilities about the potential impacts of the work stoppage on their finances and careers. That report, Siegel says, is ultimately why the foundation chose to disperse grants and not loans. The survey found that 45 percent of disabled respondents already have more than $50,000 in debt.
“We weren’t aware of any other research that has been done about the implications of a strike and, specifically, on this population, which we think it will hit harder than most,” the Inevitable co-founder tells THR about the survey, released ahead of the strike. “And when we did the research, the most crystallizing and frankly challenging stat to read was that 43 percent of disabled writers have less than three months of savings, 67 percent have less than six months.”
“Knowing that the last strike was over three months,” he adds, “we’re looking at total wipe-out scenarios.”
Described by Siegel as hardship funding, the money can be used by grantees in any way they see fit and is non-taxable, though the foundation encourages writers to check with an accountant or tax professional after receiving the funds. Applicants also do not have to disclose their disability or medical history publicly. “We’re working on the identity model. We’re not working on the medical model, so we are never checking records,” Siegel says.
Applicants will, however, fill out a form answering whether they generally identify as having a disability, along with other identity-based questions. One question will focus on confirming more specific conditions and communities the applicant identifies with, such as being neurodiverse or having physical or intellectual disabilities. Writers are not only encouraged to note all the ways they identify if they are a part of multiple communities, but to also consider conditions that they might not typically label as a disability.
It’s a question that Siegel says, “hopefully, might allow people who go, ‘I’m chronically ill, but I don’t identify as disabled,’ to check the chronically ill box.” That, he says, will help the organization carry out the fund’s ultimate goal, which is to “get as much money out the door as fast as we can to the right people.”
The Emergency Relief Fund — the latest endeavor for the disability and screenwriter-focused nonprofit — is also accepting donations, in a move that expands the nonprofit’s fundraising approaches. “We’ve done very little small-dollar individual fundraising work, but I am hoping that there are big showrunners who come through and give to this,” Siegel says. “A lot have said the strike’s not about us. It’s about the next generation. It’s about paying this forward. I’m hoping for that in a literal sense.”
The 10-day window to apply to the fund for a first-round grant begins Thursday with applications available — including in plain text format — on the Inevitable Foundation website. They will be reviewed by foundation staff with a projected turnaround time of one week or less.
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