U.S. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Broadway League renewed the call for dedicated federal funding for Broadway and other New York live venues today, reiterating the push for the $10 billion bipartisan Save Our Stages campaign.
“Today we are fighting hard to keep stages alive, stories told and shows going on,” Schumer said at an outdoor press conference in New York’s theater district near the TKTS Booth. The senator joked that he would demand “a Lion King’s share of federal relief” for Broadway.
Citing the $15 billion contributed by Broadway to New York’s economy last year, the 100,000 jobs, and the millions of tourists, Schumer called live performance “our pulse, our energy.” He said theater was particularly vulnerable to COVID since live venues were “the first to close under COVID and the last to open.”
Last month, Schumer endorsed the $10 billion bipartisan Save Our Stages bill co-authored by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Republican John Cornyn to provide grants of up to $12 million to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to help cover six months of operating expenses and offset the economic impact of COVID-19. The grants could be used for payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities, and personal protective equipment, among other needs.
Schumer said today that the grants would aid live venues in staying afloat until next spring when a vaccine could be available. If no vaccine arrives by then, Schumer said, he would seek to renew the bill. The senator requested that theater industry insiders utilize their subscriber and supporter lists to enlist patrons and fans in emailing senators to support the bill.
Asked about the bill’s chances for passage, Schumer said, “The likelihood is getting better,” adding that even President Donald Trump seems to be shifting for some sort of federal aid.
Also present today were Disney Theatrical Group president and Broadway League chair Thomas Schumacher, Broadway star Laura Benanti, Aida director Schele Williams, and New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who tweeted, “We need federal funding to #SaveOurStages, Broadway + live venues across NYC! At stake: 100,000 good-paying jobs, 14 unions & the cultural [heart] of our city.”
Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said today that the the bill would provide funding for rehearsals, the refurbishment of sets and venues, and to encourage the supply of new work “to the pipeline,” among other things.
Today’s event was the latest in Schumer’s tour of appearances in support of the bill. On Sunday, Schumer was joined at a press conference by comedian Jerry Seinfeld at New York’s Gotham Comedy Club to rally support, and on Monday he did the same at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, Long Island.
Schumer has been quick to name the entertainment stars supporting the bill, including Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, Seinfeld and Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin.
“Remember them?,” Schumer said today of Zeppelin. “I loved In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
That song was performed by Iron Butterfly.
We need federal funding to #SaveOurStages, Broadway+live venues across NYC!
At stake: 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ good-paying jobs, 14 unions & the cultural ❤️of our city.
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) September 18, 2020
Broadway, music, and the arts are the heartbeat of New York City.
— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) September 18, 2020
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