Broadway leaders and Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reunited in Times Square May 21 to highlight the impact the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program will have on Broadway’s economic revitalization. The press conference took place eight months after the Broadway League and Schumer first convened in the midtown hub to support the program’s earlier, then-yet-to-pass iteration, the Save Our Stages Act.
On hand, in addition to Schumer, were Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin, Broadway League Chair Lauren Reid, Actors Fund Chair Brian Stokes Mitchell, IATSE Local One President James J. Claffey Jr., comedian Theresa Moriarty, and, via iPad, a London-based Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“We are saying today without a Doubtfire, we are reopening bigger and better than ever,” Schumer, not missing the opportunity for a pun, stated.
The Small Business Administration says it expects to begin distributing grants through the $16 billion program by the end of the month. The rollout follows a bumpy launch; though initially slated to open the portal April 8, technical difficulties prevented venue operators from submitting applications until April 26.
Accepted participants will receive grants of up to $10 million (or 45 percent of their 2019 gross revenue) to cover such expenses as rents and mortgages, payroll, and renovations that may be required to meet health and safety standards as in-person performances begin to resume. In addition to producers, venue operators, and arts organizations around the country, recipients may include movie theatre operators and owners, talent representatives, zoos, and museums.
For the first wave of grants, the SBA will prioritize applicants that have reported at least 90 percent of revenue loss between April and December 2020. After 14 days, it will move on to a second priority level, which includes applicants reporting revenue loss of at least 70 percent.
In addition to noting the grant program, the press conference served to celebrate Broadway’s upcoming reopening; with productions readying to welcome back audiences on a rolling basis beginning (as of the time of publication) September 14. Currently, 18 shows are on sale to the public, with about a half dozen others announcing reopening dates within the 2021–2022 season.
“I can’t wait to hear the ovation that goes up when that first curtain rises on each one of those shows,” Mitchell said at the podium. “Plan for a long evening, everybody, if you’re going to be in the theatre as well, because I think it’s going to be long and spectacular and full of gratitude and joy and exhalation.”