Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined the Broadway League to drum up support for the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act in New York City Friday. The legislation proposes federal assistance for productions, concerts, comedy shows and other positions within the industry, which has been brought to a near-complete halt by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Great White Way has, for generations, led the way in what has made this city the envy of the world in the arts, and that’s why it’s so important to provide dedicated federal assistance to Broadway—because it really is a part of what defines New York, and we have to fight for it,” Sen. Schumer said. “The Save Our Stages Act will help Broadway and other live venues keep the lights on and the curtains calling when this is all over, and so I’ll fight to include this funding in upcoming legislation.”
Passage of another round of stimulus has become a political football of late, with democrats and republicans fighting for vastly different amounts of support. Democrats support funding of a package totaling as much as $3 trillion, while the republican party tried passing a bill about 1/3 that size, with the White House indicating it would be comfortable with meeting somewhere in the middle.
SOS was introduced in July by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX). It proposes as much as $10 billion to help support entertainment venues and companies through the ongoing halt on their businesses. It has language indicating it will “narrowly define independent live venue operators, promoters, and talent representatives to prevent large, international corporations from receiving federal grant funding.” That means companies like Live Nation would be deliberately omitted from applying for the funding program.
With its businesses shuttered since March and scheduled to stay that way through at least early January of next year, Broadway is keen on seeing such support pass. Such funding would help organizations maintain debt as well as continue paying employees until government restrictions on live events can be scrapped and house lights come up once again.
“Broadway is labor. That’s why we must support the tens of thousands of costumers, musicians, stagehands, performers and theatre staffs who make up Broadway’s 14 unions,” said Thomas Schumacher, Chairman of the Board of The Broadway League Friday. “We are indebted to Senator Schumer, our most valuable partner in Washington, for his leadership on the Save Our Stages Act (SOS). He knows that Broadway is essential to the heartbeat of New York, bringing in nearly $15B annually and supporting 97,000 jobs. New York needs Broadway and Broadway needs SOS.”
“Broadway in NYC and our presenters and venues in every state are facing the worst crisis in our history. Our vibrant national industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, supports small local businesses, and generates $20 billion of economic impact in NYC and in over 200 cities nationally each year. We are urging Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act and support live theatre across the country,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.
As part of their pitch for support in favor of SOS, the Broadway League provided a form letter for supporters to use to contact their lawmakers. That form letter is pasted below:
I, YOUR NAME, of YOUR CITY, YOUR STATE urge Congress and SENATOR OR REP’S NAME to pass the Save Our Stages Act to save our independent live entertainment venues and extend pandemic unemployment assistance to help thousands of struggling workers. Our nation’s venues and their thousands of workers are struggling to survive – through no fault of their own – and need assistance NOW.