The 900 billion emergency aid package $ Includes a long-term measure to send assistance to independent theaters and music venues.
But now the cultural centers and small businesses are left waiting for help.
The measure was due to become law this week, but President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to blow up the deal, the result of months of controversial negotiations. It is not clear whether the president intends to veto the bill or endure signing it in the weeks remaining in his presidency.
Legislation allocates $ 15 billion in grants to entities that include museums and zoos. It covers a shot of several months for the Save Our Stages Act, a bipartisan plan to bend small arts and entertainment venues that have taken a drubbing under pandemic health restrictions.
Private, small performing arts venues, cinemas, museums and zoos would be able to receive grants from the Small Business Administration – starting with those that have seen a turnover of more than 90% from last year. The units can use the money for costs such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, insurance and maintenance to comply with public health guidelines.
Most recently, Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who first co-sponsored the bill with Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas in July, said the plan would send targeted aid to companies that were typically the first to close and will be among the last to open.
“These are some of the companies and phases that have been hurt the most that have literally just shut down,” she told CNBC on Tuesday. The interview came just hours before Trump, who was expected to sign the bill, called it a “disgrace” and demanded that lawmakers change it.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the entertainment industry. Live shows have been canceled for almost nine months, and dozens of giant films have been postponed until 2021. This has shattered the bottom lines and threatened to push companies large and small towards bankruptcy.
However, only the smallest companies could benefit from Klobuchar’s and Cornyn’s plan. Venues seeking help must not fall into more than two of the following groups:
- Listed companies
- Multinational companies
- Companies operating in more than 10 US states
- Companies that have more than 500 full-time employees
- Companies that have received at least 10% of the revenue from public sources
“The bigger chains like AMC and Regal, they’ve simply had access to financing that some of the smaller operators don’t have,” said Doug Calidas, Klobuchar’s legislative director. “Even if the worst case scenario happens and they can’t handle it, they are usually bought out and persist, while many of these very small theaters, if they close their doors, would be.”
The bill will offer relief to hundreds of independent cinemas, which the National Association of Theater Owners have warned can close permanently if they do not get help.
“This action will help us survive until the vaccines have been distributed on a large scale,” said Brock Bagby, executive vice president of B&B Theaters, a family-owned company with 48 theaters in eight states.
While cinemas have been able to operate with limited capacity in most states, live entertainment centers like Broadway in New York City have been closed.
The Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents about 51,000 stage actors and leaders in the live theater performance industry, said more than 1,100 actors and directors lost their jobs on Broadway during the pandemic.
The theater industry in New York City supports more than 96,000 local jobs, according to the Broadway League. This includes those involved in productions and those working in the Broadway area, such as retailers, taxi drivers and restaurant owners.
“We are grateful for this two-party agreement that will provide immediate relief across our industry and a lifeline for the future,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, after lawmakers signed the deal – but before Trump ripped the deal off after its passage into Congress.
The group declined to comment further as CNBC asked for a response to Trump’s subsequent attack on the Covid bill.