NEW YORK — In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Broadway producers met with union heads Friday to broach the subject of possible concessions to help the industry weather a potentially troublesome theater season.
Of immediate concern, Broadway shows lost revenues of approximately $3 million due to canceled performances on Sept. 11 and 12.
Although Broadway productions carry insurance to cover performance revenues lost due to “local or national emergencies,” insurance policies generally contain a standard two- or three-performance deductible. Supplements to such policies are available, but they are expensive and very rare.
On Friday, the executive board of the League of American Theaters and Producers met with heads of Actors’ Equity, ATPAM, the stagehands’ Local One, the musicians’ Local 802 and other legit unions.
According to one union exec, the league’s presentation was essentially a generalized request for concessions.
“In the end, we asked them to give specifics rather than a vague request,” the union exec said. “It’s hard for us to respond to generalizations.”
Paul Libin, a member of the league’s exec board, characterized the confab differently, saying it was less about the week’s lost performances than the future of Gotham’s theater business.
“We basically said there’s a difficult road ahead,” said Libin, who is producing director at Jujamcyn Theaters. “We’re in this together. We don’t know what to ask you for right now. Some shows don’t need help. Other shows need a lot of help.”
Libin said the league already knew of large groups that had canceled hotel reservations, “which represent a critical mass of theatergoers.”
Harriet Slaughter, the league’s director of labor relations, chose not to use the word “concessions” in her assessment of the league meeting. “If a show is in trouble middle of next week and has an issue, we’re asking the unions to act with authority and swiftly,” she explained.
In the case of rule changes, union heads must consult with their boards, which meet only every two weeks. Slaughter said the league wanted the union heads to have the authority to implement potential rule changes more expediently.
She also mentioned that the league and the unions discussed a possible gala performance to benefit either the Twin Towers fund or the firemen in the theater district.
The league and the unions agreed to reconvene at 2 p.m. today.
On Friday, the league held a second meeting to address “the immediate health of our industry,” Bernstein said. In addition to producers and theater owners, the group included union members and reps from TDF, Broadway Cares, the Actors Fund and other legit orgs generally not present at league confabs.
“It was a rallying of what we can do to channel charitable impulses and marketing techniques to save our industry,” Bernstein said. “There was no grand conclusions, but hopefully it is the beginning of a creative process.” The league plans to turn the community meeting into an ongoing weekly event.
“This is not a seven, 14 or 60-day problem,” the league prexy said of the impact of the terrorist attacks on Gotham’s theater industry. “The analogy could be London after the blitz, not the Kennedy assassination. The story is unfolding.”