Schumer calls for federal aid for Broadway theaters

New York Senator Chuck Schumer and advocates from the Broadway League rallied in Times Square on Friday to call for federal funding to keep the theater industry alive.

Theaters on the Great White Way have been closed since March and will remain dark until January, leaving thousands without work.

Tony award-winning actress Laura Benanti calls her job a paycheck-to-paycheck profession.

“Of course this has impacted me personally, this is my lifeblood,” Benanti said. “This is not about wanting to get back on stage and entertain people. This about wanting to be able to feed your family.”

“This is the longest shutdown, by far, in our one hundred year history on Broadway,” Thomas Schumacher, Chairman of The Broadway League, says.

“So, what our bill does is very simple: it provides ten billion dollars for grants for the next 6 months to our live venues, to our stages,” Schumer said.

Senator Schumer’s bill, called the Save Our Stages Act, would supply large-scale Broadway theatres with up to twelve million dollars. The money would pay for rehearsals, help to refurbish and reinstall technical sets and prepare live venues for re-opening.

Right now, about ninety-seven thousand people who work on Broadway are unemployed. That includes all of the people backstage who make the production possible like ushers, stagehands, costume designers, lighting and even hair and makeup artists.

Broadway theaters to remain dark until January

“For the seamstresses, for people who, Broadway is their lifeblood, for the people you don’t think of when you think of Broadway; they are the reason that we can do this,” Benanti explains.

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Several nonprofits that support the performing arts, including The Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids set up emergency funds when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

However, struggling artists say they won’t fully bounce back until the city can finally raise the Broadway curtain.