West End creatives and beloved celebrity favourites are rallying behind a fundraising initiative for the UK theatre community embattled by the COVID-19 epidemic to keep theatre alive Until the Curtains Rise. 


Theatre closures as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic have left actors, directors, producers, writers, composers, designers, stage technicians and theatre administration in dire financial and emotional circumstances, with their future in limbo.


Today, Until The Curtains Rise launches a silent auction and crowdfunding initiative, inviting members of the public to bid on ‘rewards’ donated by stars and creatives. 


Donors include Dame Helen Mirren, Miranda Hart, Michael Ball, Christopher Biggins, Arlene Phillips, Danielle de Niese, Jodie Pregner, Bertie Carvel, Lauren Ward, Hannah Waddingham, Su Pollard, Harriet Thorpe, Lesley Joseph, Julie Atherton, Emma Kingston, Jason Carr, Chris Hopkins, Grace Taylor, Linda John-Pierre, Guy Hore, Kaisa Hammarlund, Simon Lipkin, Michael Vinsen, Natalie Moore-Williams, Jason Denton, Charlotte Vaughn, Adam Robert Lewis, Dominic Hodson, Reece Kerridge and the actor service We Audition. 


Rewards in the silent auction include personalised video messages, virtual coffee chats, signed memorabilia and one-on-one masterclasses. 


Funds raised will be administered by Acting For Others, who provide financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through their 14 member charities.


Equity UK, the industry’s union for performers and creative practitioners, is supporting the fundraising initiative, which is co-founded and produced by Maryann Wright and Estee Stimler.


Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, Co-chairman of Acting for Others, said: “This is a wonderful initiative. Thank you to everyone involved with Until the Curtains Rise, we are very touched to see so many of our colleagues donating their time and talents to this project and offering these unique rewards in aid of Acting for Others. Acting for Others are here for the theatre community through this difficult time and long will we continue when the curtain does indeed ‘rise again’” 


Matt Hood, Assistant General Secretary, Equity UK said: “Equity welcomes the solidarity shown across our industry with our members facing this unprecedented crisis – including from those audience members supporting performers and creative practitioners through Until The Curtains Rise. The challenges facing freelance theatre workers during this pandemic are immense but together we will ensure that the UK theatre industry returns stronger than ever before.”


Maryann Wright and Estee Stimler, who co-founded and are producing the Until The Curtains Rise fundraiser, said, “The theatre people we love and work with are hurting, so we wanted to give them moral and practical support, and hope, in this turbulent time. Now is the moment for all of us who have experienced the joy of theatre to reach out, pitch in, and support those who make that special magic happen until the curtains rise, because they will.”


Visit www.untilthecurtainsrise.com for more information and to bid on the fundraiser. Bidding is open from 6 May to 24 May 2020. Donations without a reward are also accepted and greatly appreciated. All funds go directly to Acting For Others.