Want to see some of the West End’s best performers this weekend – without the ticket fees? Head over to Regent’s Park for the Spotlight Challenge, a 5km and 10km run organised by casting organisation Spotlight specifically for those in the theatre and acting industries. The run benefits the umbrella charity Acting for Others, which directly supports a wide range of charitable causes linked to the theatre world. We spoke with Spotlight CEO Ben Seale to learn more about this important event and how you can get involved.
Who’s taking part in this year’s Spotlight Challenge, and why should theatre fans know about this event?
The Spotlight Challenge is a 5km and 10km run in Regent’s Park held each year in September as an opportunity for everyone in the entertainment industry to take part in a fun, active event. People from across the world of stage and screen have signed up to run or have volunteered to help. There’ll be casting directors, agents and performers including Samantha Bond, Julian Glover, Jenny Agutter and Hugh Sachs all taking part on the day.
What inspired you to organise the run?
Following a series of high-profile suicides in the industry a few years ago, we felt that it was important to better understand the mental health challenges that many people in our industry face, and look at the ways in which we could offer more support. After doing research into how we could raise awareness of the difficulties facing performers, we started two new initiatives. The first was artsminds.co.uk, a website dedicated to offering support and advice for people within the performing arts. The other was the Spotlight Challenge, which was introduced to encourage health, wellbeing and strong social connections for everyone in our industry.
Can you elaborate on the mission and goals of Acting for Others? Why did you choose this charity, and how can supporters expect their donations will be used?
Acting for Others consists of 15 member charities, and between them they provide support for people of all ages who have worked in the entertainment industry. They are people in need as a result of illness, accident, old age or low income families. Acting for Others also assists with benefits and debt advice and can offer retraining grants to those already working in the profession.
Spotlight enables actors at all stages of their careers to be found by casting directors, so providing support via Acting for Others to performers who have fallen on difficult times was a natural fit.
If people would like to get involved with the event but don’t consider themselves much of a runner, how can they help?
Anyone involved in the theatre industry is welcome to take part in the event, whether that’s cheering people on or leading from the front. Just come along on the day and your support will help our runners across the line! You can also donate to Acting for Others here.
Why do you think it’s important for the theatre/acting community specifically to come together for this kind of event?
The Spotlight Challenge is a great opportunity to have a fun day out with your colleagues and enjoy a run in one of London’s most beautiful parks. Working as an actor often involves long hours and the nature of the work is quite transient, so getting involved with an event such as the Spotlight Challenge is an opportunity to get away from the stresses of work and life, and develop real friendships with people in our community.
Do you have any plans for other charity events in the future?
Acting for Others run a range of events, including the West End Bake Off and their annual bucket collection at theatres across the country each October.