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Safety Curtain's Heritage & Legacy

In 1971 and 1972, Dame Peggy Ashcroft led a group of actors which came together to help the Panovs, a Russian ballet couple, to escape to the West.


As a group they were affiliated to the Brussels-based FIA (the International Federation Of Actors), which became a sub-committee of Equity, although independent of it.

In 1973, following a coup in Chile, an English dancer called Joan Jara escaped to London with her children. Her husband was the eminent teacher, poet, composer, musician and theatre director Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez. Chile's new brutal regime under dictator Augusto Pinochet targeted, amongst others, those in the creative arts. In September 1973, Víctor Jara, as he was best known, had been imprisoned and tortured - and finally murdered - at Chile Stadium. (Three decade later, in 2004, the stadium was renamed Estadio Víctor Jara in his honour.)

Joan Jara became the figurehead for Chileans in exile in the seventies - and the committee became known as ICAF, the International Committee for Artists' Freedom. Through Joan, ICAF learned when actors were coming up for trial back in Chile and could then actively help their cases. If the Chilean actors could prove there were offers of work outside of the country, they might be granted permission to leave. So with the backing of Equity, several British theatres - including the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court and the Oxford Playhouse - supported their cases by issuing contracts for the Spanish-speaking actors that they could produce at their trials. As a result, many came to the UK and were given Equity membership.

Since that time, many performers have been aided and supported by ICAF from countries including Bosnia, Algeria, Romania, Burma, Tibet, Iraq, Chechnya, Russia, Turkey, Kenya and Nigeria.

Because of increasing demands on ICAF, the idea of a charity came about to be called the International Performers’ Aid Trust. Also known as IPAT, it was the brainchild of former Equity President Hugh Manning, who also became the first Chairman of IPAT in 2000.


The charity was renamed SafetyCurtain in 2019.

Some of our beneficiaries, in loose chronological order, includes:

(not everyone is listed to protect performers identities)

Adunga Dance Co - Ethiopia

Crear Vale La Pena - Buenos Airies

Male Mole Dance Co - Brazil

Mexico Creativo - Mexico

Mostar Sinfonietta - Bosnia

Prague actors affected by flooding - Czech Republic

5Cs - Nairobi

Music for Hope - El Salvador

Kaliban Usina Teatro - Uruguay

Anno's Africa - Kenya

Able Child Africa - Tanzania

Open Space - Chile

AZ Theatre - Gaza

Jos Theatre - Nigeria

Fragments Theatre, Jenin - Palestine

Freedom Theatre, Jenin - Palestine

Support for Syrian actors in exile

Reasmey Ankor Troupe - Cambodia

Pa Bobo's Music School - Gambia

Actors' Retirement Home - Argentina

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