The See Lighting Foundation, which launched last year by offering monthly grants of $500 to 60 immigrant theatre artists, has raised $141,422 since June. With theatres still closed and live programming on hold due to COVID-19, a number of these artists continue to feel the financial impacts of the public health crisis.
"Knowing where we currently are in this pandemic, we are still pushing through 2021 to help more artists," founder Cha See says. "Our goal is $180,000, and ultimately, we want to exceed our goal to help those who are on the waitlist."
See says there are now three ways to donate: 1) through the See Lighting Foundation website, 2) by Venmoing @Cha-See, or 3) emailing email@example.com for donations over $5,000 (Ars Nova is the fiscal sponsor for larger donations).
While legally allowed to work in the U.S., visa holders do not have the same access to state unemployment benefits and other subsidies. The funds from the campaign are used for personal expenses of the beneficiaries such as paying for rent, health care, and food.
The campaign was created by lighting designer See (one in two, What to Send Up When It Goes Down), scenic designer Kimie Nishikawa (The Headlands, The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll'd), and costume designer Rodrigo Muñoz.
"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," See and Nishikawa shared with Playbill back in July. "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."
Beneficiaries for the campaign include scenic, costume, lighting, sound, and projection designers, stage managers, dramaturgs, prop artisans, technical directors, directors, and actors. You can see who they are, and check out their work, here.