The story of The Royal Theatrical Fund began in 1839 when four actors meeting for refreshment one evening decided that something had to be done about the large number of actors ending their lives in conditions of appalling hardship and penury.
The recent development of the railway network had led to a proliferation of theatres throughout the country and an explosion in the number of actors in the profession. The General Theatrical Fund Association, as it was then called, was incorporated by Royal Charter as a pension fund open to all members of the acting profession and its first chairman was Charles Dickens.
The Royal Theatrical Fund is the only grant making body which has no restrictive covenant applied to the nature and extent of the financial support it may provide to those in or retired from the entertainment profession.
With the passage of time, it became obvious that the terms of the original Charter no longer met the needs of the day. The Fund was therefore reconstituted under a second Royal Charter in 1974, which enables the Board of Directors to award grants, both regular and special, to those members of the theatrical profession who require medical attention or are otherwise prevented from working by circumstances outside their control.
Since its reconstitution, The Fund’s scope of beneficiaries has been widened to encompass the entire entertainment world. It now supports applicants whose career have been in ballet, opera, radio and television.