New York, NY – With a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases on the horizon as the result of new hotspots of the coronavirus emerging throughout New York City, The Broadway League has announced that theater performances are expected to remain postponed until June 1, 2021.
“With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so,” said President Charlotte St. Martin of the Broadway League. “We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again.”
Ticket sales for Broadway performances through May 30, 2021 remain suspended and theatergoers who purchased one from before the March 15 government shutdown dated through spring of next year must contact their point of purchase for details about exchanges and refunds, according to The Broadway League.
Not only have theater actors been affected by the shutdown of Broadway, but the union representing them and the workers managing their auditions at Actors’ Equity Association has been too.
“As the industry has shut down the union has had to cut spending,” said Brandon Lorenz, a spokesman for AEA. “The unfortunate truth is that many of the original government relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (a loan program for employers) specifically excluded labor unions. And so in March, Equity took immediate steps to cut back on spending.”
The cut meant less pay or no work for some of its staff.
“As it became clear that the shutdown would become an extended one, Equity took further steps,” said Lorenz. “Top executive staff has reduced pay. Departmental spending was cut. And in July Equity made the painful and difficult decision to proceed with staff reductions, including furloughs and layoffs. That decision was made consistent with Equity’s values, and so furloughed staff were kept on the health plan and separated staff were offered health insurance that extended beyond their final date of employment.”
AEA hopes that the government will start providing more federal unemployment benefits and a health insurance subsidy.
“We are at this moment because, seven months into the pandemic, our nation still lacks a coherent national strategy for masks and testing which could help bring the virus under control,” said Mary McColl, executive director for AEA. “Too many in the industry need help now as we face another six months without work. The ongoing lack of work in the arts means we face a critical need for a federal COBRA health insurance [subsidy], renewed federal unemployment benefits and arts funding. Washington must act.”
While health insurance from COBRA might help those out of work in the short term, progressives believe that it will hurt them in the short term because it’s tied to employment, doesn’t cover those that were uninsured before the pandemic and if a company goes out of business the coverage would cease to exist, according to U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
Jayapal introduced the Medicare Crisis Program Act of 2020 and the Paycheck Guarantee Act to address issues with health insurance and the stagnant economy earlier this year.
In the meantime, the 31 shows that were in production will remain closed but if they were produced before Feb. 19 they are eligible for consideration in Tony Awards, which will announce nominations on Oct. 15 on its YouTube Channel, according to Playbill.
The 16 shows that had previews or were in rehearsals around March 12, like Diana: A True Musical and Sing Street, respectively, will not be eligible for contention this year.
The Tony Awards was originally scheduled for June 7, 2020 at Radio Music Hall.