The Broadway League & unions announce relief package to pay Broadway employees during the coronavirus shutdown
| By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels
The Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) together with The Broadway League have reached an agreement on an emergency relief fund to pay Broadway employees and provide health insurance whilst New York City theatres remain on lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis.
The deal is sealed for a Broadway financial aid package
It was announced on 12 March 2020 by The Broadway League that all theatres in New York would be closed until 13 April. The news raised concerns that theatre staff ranging from ushers and stage managers to makeup artists and actors would have to endure one month without pay whilst all performances were cancelled.
The newly announced relief agreement, which was negotiated by 14 labour unions, will provide unionised Broadway workers with full pay for the week that was cut short by the Broadway shutdown and the contractual minimum salary for the remaining two weeks.
The agreement will also provide workers with full health, pension, and 401(k) benefits. After the 12th of April, employees will only receive health insurance coverage, despite worries that the Broadway lockdown is likely to extend past the initial end date set by The Broadway League.
Additionally, the agreement will give workers full health, pension and 401(k) benefits. After April 12, employees will receive only health insurance, despite concerns that the current Broadway shutdown is likely to continue past the league’s initial date.
Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, said: "The leaders of our industry have been working tirelessly with our partners at the unions to forge an agreement that will address many of the needs of our employees during this crisis. We are a community that cares about each other, and we are pleased that we can offer some relief. Once we are past this challenging moment, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to our theaters to experience the best of live entertainment together once again."
The financial relief package will affect employees of 30 commercial Broadway shows as well as an additional three productions that have not opened yet. The agreement marks a pivotal step in helping Broadway theatre workers are likely to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and prone to financial hardship.
The global pandemic has already cost thousands of entertainment workers their jobs and this trend is likley to continue in the coming weeks. Broadway producers who have been burdened with no box office revenue have already begun to slash several productions whose preview performances were cut short.
Hangmen, which officially began its performances on 11 March and played 13 preview performances before the shutdown, announced that it would be cancelling its run altogether. This was followed by the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? headlined by Laurie Metcalf, which announced on 21 March that the show would not be going on at the Booth Theatre after playing just nine previews.
While the announced aid is expected to provide much-need relief for Broadway employees, many US theatre organisations and unions, including the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG), have begun to call on the government to pass more adequate and substantial financial aid packages for creatives in the entertainment industry.
COBUG recently issued a statement: "Now [US] Congress must do its part for arts and entertainment workers on Broadway and beyond to ensure they have access to unemployment insurance and health care during this industry-wide shutdown. We are grateful to be able to tell our members that the industry came together to provide some compensation during this terrible time. Broadway needs to come back, and working together is the best way to make that happen."
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In similar news, it was recently announced by Arts Council England that they would be providing a £160 million financial aid package for organisations and individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
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