Theatre professionals in New York and across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief in December 2020 when Congress reached an agreement on a coronavirus relief package that included the $15 billion Save Our Stages Act. That moment was thanks in large part to the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who fought to ensure that the final relief package included significant funds for the entertainment industry.
The bill, which allows an array of arts and performance-focused entities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to apply for grants, took effect this spring. As a result, billions of dollars are now flowing to more than 1,300 New York cultural institutions.
The gratitude of New York theatre workers’ for the Senator’s successful efforts is reflected below in quotes from many of the theatre industry’s leaders.
Producer Jordan Roth: “The Senator’s heroic efforts to not only pass the Save Our Stages legislation but to see it all the way through until every show had what it needed to get back up are why so many could return to their jobs and so many more could return to theatre seats. Schumer saved our stages.”
Playbill President & CEO Philip Birsh: “Senator Schumer demonstrates once again that he is a champion for the arts. We were in terrible need, and, as always, he proved he was a great friend indeed!”
Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin: “Senator Chuck Schumer is the man whose leadership led a bipartisan effort in Congress to ensure that live theatre and entertainment became a reality with the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant grants. Certainly, Broadway’s community of 97,000 workers are going back to work thanks to this leadership. And even once the $16 billion bill was passed, he has remained involved with our community to ensure that the Small Business Administration worked with us to enable us to get these grants to our community.”
Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola: “Without the leadership of Senator Schumer and the support of his colleagues, venues would have shuttered, and arts workers would have had an even greater financial burden as they still struggle to recover from this ongoing pandemic. Their work ensured that theatres across the country could jump start their efforts to contribute not only to the nation’s economy, but our cultural health again.”
John Gore Organization President Lauren Reid: “By leading the bipartisan push to pass Save Our Stages, Senator Schumer literally saved the live theatre industry. Thanks to his efforts, we’ve been able to put thousands of skilled workers and artists back to work while bringing our art back to audiences. Most importantly, we’re once again fostering real, human connection, as only live theatre can, and that’s something that has never felt so valuable.”
The Actors Fund CEO Joe Benincasa: “Senator Schumer is a champion for the Arts who understands the profound impact of Broadway on the overall health of New York City and the world. What arts workers do on stage and behind the scenes matter to him. And, he really shows up, always answering the call for help.”
A year and a half after Broadway and theatres across the country were forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, the theatre industry is back on its feet thanks to the tireless efforts of Senator Schumer.