Actors’ Equity Association is calling the pending expiration of federal pandemic unemployment benefits “inexcusable” and says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “dithers” as theater workers “stare down an uncertain future.”
“Equity members want to go back to work, but the industry has been shut down since March because in most states, it is still not safe for mass gatherings,” said Kate Shindle, Equity President. “The artists who fuel our gigantic, nationwide economic engine have gone months without work, and the weekly $600 included in the CARES Act is all that is keeping our workers afloat as they stare down an uncertain future. How much longer will Senator McConnell wait to bring up the HEROES Act for a vote? The Senate must act.”
The statement was included in a press release headlined “Inexcusable: Sen. McConnell Dithers as $600 Weekly Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Set to Expire.”
The $600 weekly unemployment assistance, initiated in March as part of the CARES Act, is set to expire by July 31. GOP and White House divisions over budgeting have stalled an agreement on the updated CARE provisions until next week, with the continuation of the $600 benefit amount in serious question.
Broadway, as well as theaters across the country, has been dark since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck New York. Although January 2021 is the targeted re-opening date as determined by the Broadway League, representing producers and theater owners, few in the industry expect theater productions to return before next spring.