New legislation being introduced to Congress is looking to provide a lifeline to struggling regional theatres facing profound effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Supporting Theater and Generating Economic Activity Act would annually provide $500 million in federal funding via grants for nonprofit regional theatres for five years.
The measure will be showcased in a September 28 event hosted by New York Senator Charles E. Schumer in Washington, D.C. On hand to speak will be a number of Broadway powerhouses, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phylicia Rashad, both of whom are expected to highlight regional theatres' roles as economic hubs, both in terms of the employment they create and the traffic they bring to neighboring restaurants and hotels.
If passed, the legislation would be a major boon to an industry still reeling from pandemic losses. In just the past few weeks, major cuts were revealed at Chicago's Steppenwolf and Lookingglass, Off-Broadway's The Public Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group. The STAGE Act is designed to end this troubling trend and aid recovery for these and other theatrical institutions nationwide.
The bill is the work of the Professional Non-Profit Theatre Coalition, which comprises artistic, managing, and executive directors from more than 140 theatres across the country, founded by former Oregon Shakespeare Festival leader Nataki Garrett.
The STAGE Act follows earlier attempts at similar legislation that stalled in Congress, including the Creative Economy Revitalization Act and the Promoting Local Arts and Creative Economy Workforce Act.