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Netflix relief fund to benefit Canadian groups providing aid to arts community

The logo of American entertainment company Netflix is pictured at the Paris games week in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Netflix has announced a US$100 million global relief fund to support workers in the creative community, including Canada's, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena

The logo of American entertainment company Netflix is pictured at the Paris games week in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Netflix has announced a US$100 million global relief fund to support workers in the creative community, including Canada's, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena

TORONTO - Netflix has announced a US$100 million global relief fund to support workers in the creative community, including Canada's, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ted Sarandos, the streaming giant's chief content officer, says in a blog post that most of the fund will go toward support for the hardest hit workers on Netflix's own productions around the world.

He says the company is "in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production."

From the fund, US$15 million will also go toward third parties and non-profits providing emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast in the countries where Netflix has a large production base.

Those organizations include the Toronto-based AFC, formerly known as the Actors Fund of Canada, and the Fondation des Artistes.

AFC, which distributes emergency financial aid to professionals working in film, TV, music, theatre and dance, will receive C$1 million.

The Fondation des Artistes, which provides support for artists in Quebec, will receive C$500,000.

Netflix is also donating US$1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA COVID-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the U.S.

Netflix says the global relief fund is in addition to the two weeks' pay it has already committed to the crew and cast on productions the company was forced to suspend last week.

It adds that in other regions, including Europe, Latin America and Asia where Netflix has a big production presence, it is working with existing industry organizations to create similar creative community emergency relief efforts.

"The COVID-19 crisis is devastating for many industries, including the creative community," Sarandos said in Friday's post.

"Almost all television and film production has now ceased globally — leaving hundreds of thousands of crew and cast without jobs. These include electricians, carpenters and drivers, many of whom are paid hourly wages and work on a project-to-project basis.

"This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2020.

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