With theatres still closed, and a lot of live programming on hold due to COVID-19, a number of immigrant theatre artists continue to feel the financial impacts of the public health crisis. While legally allowed to work in the U.S., visa holders do not have the same access to state unemployment benefits and other subsidies.
Following the success of an initial fundraising campaign, The See Lighting Foundation is working to distribute $500 monthly grants to 60 theatre artists, on a monthly basis, for the next six months. To donate, click here.
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.
Launched in June, the See Lighting Foundation campaign is created by lighting designer and founder of the foundation Cha 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," shared See and Nishikawa with Playbill. "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."
The funds from the campaign will be used for personal expenses of the beneficiaries such as paying for rent, health care, and food.