The show must go on: Save Our Stages Act funding set to expire as New York’s theater scene continues to rebound

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney stood alongside arts and culture officials and organizations on Tuesday to call for an extension of a federal funding lifeline to the arts in New York City.

The Save Our Stages Act was signed into law in December 2020 and has been used to provide performing arts venues and organizations that have been closed or struggling due to grants related to the COVID-19 pandemic to help maintain the arts alive in the Big Apple.

Although New York City is bouncing back from the onslaught of the deadly virus, Broadway advocates and comedians say it’s not quite back yet and performing artists continue to feel the financial implications. .

“What would New York be without Broadway? You might as well be in Chicago or some other big city. It’s a unique aspect of New York, but COVID-19 has decimated most of the industry, which is why I was so thrilled when the Save Our Stages Act was signed into law in December 2020,” Maloney said. standing in the shade of the iconic Radio Municipal Music Hall. “It’s time we unlocked those funds – funds that are already there – by passing the Save Our Stages Extension Act.”

Photo by Dean Moses

Ticket sales are still not meeting pre-pandemic rates and according to the National Independent Venue Association, there are approximately 50% no-show rates for ticket holders (buyers who do not attend a show were usually only 5%). Additionally, Broadway receipts in the week ending May 29 increased; however, attendance rates continued to decline.

Smaller shows like “Come from Away” only saw 63% capacity and “Girl from the North Country” only drew 53.23% attendance.

Maloney and other lawmakers believe that by passing the Save Our Stages Extension Act – which was introduced in the House of Representatives in September 2021 – it would allow recipients to receive grants until March 11, 2023.

“SVOG is the biggest investment in culture ever made by our country. This has helped not only venues, but also small dance studios and community cultural organizations to stay alive during the pandemic. And for most performing arts organizations, the recovery is not here yet. If SVOG is not extended, if funds do not go to the hardest-hit cultural sector it was intended for, we will lose valuable cultural spaces and the economy-boosting activity they bring,” said Lucy Sexton of the New Yorkers for Arts and Culture. .

The Save Our Stages has issued $1,918,124,440 in relief funds since January. Art leaders said this grant extension won’t cost the city more money, as there are still enough funds to disperse. It would only extend the period that art venues can use it.

“This much-needed financial assistance has provided a lifeline to institutions across our country, including so many here in New York, allowing them to reopen and continue the important work of education, entertainment and creativity for which New York is so well known. But now there are still millions in the fund. Still millions of dollars in the fund, which cannot be spent due to a deadline imposed by Congress. One that needs to be extended as arts institutions are still feeling deeply and you will hear from our speakers about the impact of the coronavirus COVID pandemic,” Maloney said.

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