Robert De Niro, Viola Davis, Al Pacino, Jennifer Lawrence and more Hollywood stars have expressed gratitude to Sen. Chuck Schumer for advocating on behalf of movie theaters and “working to ensure the survival of New York’s critical arts and culture institutions.”
Schumer has been a vocal supporter of the bipartisan Save Our Stages act, which would provide $15 billion in grants for arts and entertainment venues. He recently extended the relief package to include independent movie theaters.
In a letter Monday to Schumer, the A-list actors and directors wrote, “We write to thank you for championing movie theaters and including them as eligible grant recipients in the Save Our Stages Act along with live music venues and live theater.”
Like all live entertainment establishments, movie theaters have been devastated by the pandemic. Without federal relief, the National Association of Theater Owners, the exhibition industry’s main lobbying group, estimates that 70% of cinemas will close permanently or be forced into bankruptcy before the spring of 2021. Hundreds of thousands of workers across the country have been furloughed or let go. Even as theater operators scale back costs, they are scraping by with almost zero revenue. According to NATO, 96% of independently owned and mid-sized theaters have lost 70% of income this year.
“We urge you to press for Save Our Stages passage as part of a COVID relief bill before the end of the year,” the letter says.
The letter stresses that movie theaters are particularly essential to New York’s economy. Theaters provide more than 8,000 jobs to New Yorkers, and millions more work on film production and distribution, as well as other cinema-related businesses. Nearby stores and restaurants also benefit because patrons often stop in for a bite to eat after seeing a show or watching a movie.
“With you as a champion, there is a solution that could help theaters bridge the pandemic until new content is available theatrically and crowds are ready to come back,” the letter says. “The Save Our Stages Act, as amended thanks to your efforts, is a lifeline that theaters need to see them through this crisis.
Thanks @SenSchumer for working to save over 8,000 jobs at #cinemas in New York! Movie theaters lead in employing people with disabilities, minorities, and first-time jobholders. We can’t let those jobs be lost! #saveyourcinema #saveourstages pic.twitter.com/wSTW2ldiVu
— National Association of Theatre Owners (@NATOcinemas) November 30, 2020