Lighting designer Cha See (one in two, What to Send Up When It Goes Down) and scenic designer Kimie Nishikawa (The Headlands, The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll'd) have teamed to help support immigrant theatre artists financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. With a campaign goal of $20,000, the fund will release $500 micro grants to as many artists impacted by theatre closures and cancellations as possible.
See and Nishikawa, who are both immigrant designers based in Brooklyn, created the fund after seeing a need among freelance OPT- and O1-visa holders working in the theatre. While legally allowed to work, visa holders do not have the same access to state unemployment benefits. You can donate and learn more here.
"There is a lack of resources for low-income immigrant freelance artists in NYC. Applying for unemployment benefits is a huge risk for us, and many times we are not even eligible to receive benefits," share See and Nishikawa. "O visa holders are issued their visas to allow them to do specific work in the U.S. Meaning, we cannot even seek work outside of theatre design legally.
"Most of our theatrical performances this year have been postponed and pushed to next year or simply canceled," say the designers, "and we are in deep financial trouble for the foreseeable future."
Donated money will be divided among immigrant designers and artists including scenic, prop, and costume designers, wig and make-up artists, lighting designers, sound designers, and projection designers.