Broadway secures short-term emergency relief deal for workers

Broadway secures short-term emergency relief deal for workers
Theater District, Midtown, Manhattan, New York City.

The Broadway League struck an emergency relief agreement with unions to ensure short-term pay and health insurance for workers affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.

Following the mandatory closure of Broadway on March 12, the Broadway League — which represents producers, theater owners and general managers — stated that the emergency relief deal covers unionized employees, who are to be paid their full salary for the first days of the closure and the contractual minimum for the following two weeks. Health insurance will be provided through April 12. The parties agreed to further negotiate an extension if the closure persists past the original April 13 reopen date.

“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,” Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in an announcement Friday. “We are a community that cares about each other, and we are pleased that we can offer some relief.”

On Friday, the New York Times also reported that the deal affects 30 commercial shows, which were still having performances at the time of the shutdown, and three productions that had yet to open. Nonprofit theaters have separate union contracts and are not covered under the emergency relief package announced by the Broadway League.

The news comes as performance organizations are adjusting to the new financial realities presented by the coronavirus closures. Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would be suspending the rest of its 2019-20 season, with union employees, including musicians, stagehands and chorus members receiving pay through March 31.

Other Broadway-adjacent organizations have also taken a hit. TDF (Theater Development Fund) stated Friday that it was cutting staff and reducing the salary of those who remained. In a letter, TDF Executive Director Tory Bailey noted that non-profit ticket organization would need to “consider more drastic measures” if theaters remain closed past April 12.

“I share this with you, our TDF community, to illustrate the gravity of our situation,” Bailey said. “We are doing what we must to survive this difficult period so we can be there for you when the theatres reopen.”

The Broadway shutdown has already led to the closing of two yet-to-open plays, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Hangmen,” both of which were in previews at the time of the shutdown.