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Schumer Has Been Pushing For Months For Legislation To Dedicate Fed Assistance That Would Provide Long-Term, Flexible Relief For Upstate NY Venues And Theaters Amid COVID Blow 

Senator Says COVID Relief Package Will Provide 6 Months Of Financial Support, Helping Keep More Employees Paid And Upstate NY Cultural Hubs Open For Business 

Schumer: COVID Package Keeps The Show Going In Upstate NY

After days of tirelessly negotiating to secure billions of dollars for New York in COVID relief, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the bipartisan COVID relief package includes the Save Our Stages Act, which provides $15 billion nationally for independent live venue operators, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions such as live performing arts organizations and museums that have been significantly impacted by the economic effects of the COVID crisis. Schumer said that New York would receive the lion’s share of the total national pot and that the legislation will provide temporary relief not only to the venues, but also to the employees, promoters, managers, producers, and entertainers that support them.

Specifically, the COVID relief package will create a new Small Business Administration (SBA) grant program which independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions are eligible for. To be eligible, an entity must have experienced at least 25% lost revenue due to COVID-19. Schumer said the SBA grants are designed to provide 6 months of financial support that could be used to keep employees paid and New York’s prized cultural hubs open for business.

“Independent venues, like theaters and concert halls, are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the Upstate economy,” said Senator Schumer. “These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to reopen. The COVID package that I helped negotiate, prioritizes the venues and everyone who supports them as the critical cultural hubs that they are.”

Schumer added, “Today’s dedicated federal assistance to independent venues ensures that when it is safe to do so, we can gather again for comedy, music, theater, and movies and to once again enjoy the cultural institutions that have been around for generations. The final COVID relief package will help these places keep the lights and the laughs on, and keep the curtain from closing on Upstate New York.”

Schumer said that live venues are a part of one of the hardest hit industries right now, and today’s dedicated assistance will save many venues from permanently shutting their doors to the public. It is estimated that by the end of this year, live venues across the country will lose $9 billion in ticket sales alone. The senator said the federal assistance was imperative because independent venues not only drive economic activity within communities through restaurants, hotels, taxis and other transportation and retail establishments, but live events provide 75% of all artists’ income.

Without relief help, 70% of the independent movie theaters in the country could file for bankruptcy or close permanently by the end of the year, and more than 70,000 jobs could be lost permanently. Museums across the country are struggling with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. American Alliance of Museums survey data shows that one out of every three museums may shutter permanently without immediate support, causing the loss of 12,000 museums and 124,000 jobs. More recent survey data has confirmed the financial state of U.S. museums is moving from bad to worse. 30 percent of museums remain closed since the March lockdown and those that have reopened are operating on an average of 35 percent of their regular attendance—a reduction that is unsustainable long-term. 

The senator has previously visited Long Island, Albany, and Syracuse to visit venues and advocate for federal assistance to these critical cultural hubs.

Southern Tier

“As the largest historic performing arts theatre in Tompkins County, The State Theatre of Ithaca is a vital component to the quality of life in Ithaca and beyond.   Like all other entertainment facilities, we were one of the first businesses to close and will likely remain one of the last to re-open due to COVID-19.   Senator Schumer and other elected leaders fought hard to insure that the Save Our Stages Act was included in the latest Coronavirus Relief package.  The direct support to independent live venue operators will not only help us stay in business, it will also benefit local communities that depend on the economic activity that venues like The State Theatre of Ithaca generate.  We are truly grateful for all of Senators Schumer’s efforts on our behalf,” said Doug Levine, Executive Director of The State Theatre of Ithaca.

“The inclusion of independent movie theaters alongside the many shuddered live venues as part of the Save Our Stages Act will provide much-needed support to community assets like ours. In small towns throughout upstate, entertainment venues like ours provide a crucial attractor to retail and food & beverage districts. This traffic will be an essential component to any post-pandemic economic recovery. The SOS initiative offers a lifeline and is a crucial step to helping vital arts and entertainment venues survive this crisis. We can’t thank Senator Schumer enough for co-sponsoring this thoughtful addition to the latest COVID relief package,” said Brett Bossard, Executive Director of Cinemapolis in Ithaca.

“As theatres, concert tours, festivals, opera houses, trade shows, and other live events remain closed, or open on a very limited basis, the entire industry is impacted including food & beverage workers, ushers and event day staff, video and sound technicians, and stagehands. The first industry to close last March, Live Events could be the last sector to re-open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thankful the Save Our Stages Act funding was included in the recent stimulus package to ensure our partners are given a lifeline in these difficult times,” said Chris Marion, General Manager, Visions Veterans Memorial Arena & the Broome County Forum Theatre.

“We were very thankful to hear that the Save Our Stages Act was included in the new COVID Relief package. Our industry has been severely affected by closure since March in an effort to preserve the health of the greater community. There does not seem to be an end in sight, unfortunately, and the recognition by Senator Schumer and others in Congress that we are hurting, is much appreciated. Not only are live venues affected, but the many employees that work in our industry who have been furloughed for no fault of their own. We have no productions, no revenue, and no work for them. The package includes additional unemployment benefits and stimulus checks that will be helpful as they try to make ends meet. The Clemens Center will adhere to all CDC and NYS guidelines for re-opening when we can, and to that end we anticipate significant expenses which will be helped by funding from this relief bill. Once we are beyond COVID we anticipate a great rebirth of live performances and eager audiences in Upstate NY.” - Karen Cromer, Executive Director of the Clemens Center in Elmira.

Capital Region

“We are enormously grateful that the Save our Stages Act has been passed. It will be a lifeline for one of the hardest hit industries – among the first to close and the last to re-open. As New Yorkers, we are all proud and deeply appreciative of the work of Senator Schumer -  and grateful for the support of all our congressional leaders who helped shepherd through this critical legislation.  I came from the world of artist management and my former colleagues have been utterly devastated by the effects of COVID.  Save Our Stages helps them and all the amazing individuals and organizations across the country who make arts & live performance possible.  Today, I breathe a sigh of relief for them, for our field and for our country,” said Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

“There is a growing light at the end of the tunnel.  The live performance industry, from the performers to management to stage hands to facilities, have been totally shut down for most of the pandemic and the efforts of Senator Schumer and Congress to continue to support the general economy and to acknowledge the intense need of the performing industry give hope for a vibrant return of music, theater, dance, comedy and community engagement throughout the country and to Upstate New York!” said Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors Theater.


“Cultural institutions like The North Park Theatre are essential cornerstones of Western New York’s character,” said Thomas Eoannou, who owns the historic theatre. “Thanks to Senator Schumer, the inclusion of the Save Our Stages language into this stimulus bill will allow countless venues like the North Park to not only survive the pandemic, but emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.”

"Our performing arts organizations and venues are the voice of the community, but that voice has been silenced by the pandemic," said Tod Kniazuk, director of The Big Easy in Buffalo.  "Thanks to Senator Schumer and everyone involved in passing this critical SOS bill, the people and places producing and presenting this important work will be able to survive and there will be music and dancing once again."

“Senator Schumer has always been a tireless advocate for The National Comedy Center and this bill once again demonstrates his invaluable support,” said Journey Gunderson, Executive Director. “The Save Our Stages provisions will help cultural institutions like ours ward off the devastating effects of this pandemic and further aid our resiliency.”  

"Senator Schumer once again demonstrated that he understands the extraordinary value that museums provide in their communities, and the unprecedented challenges we continue to navigate," said Marisa Wigglesworth, President and CEO of the Buffalo Museum of Science. "I am exceedingly grateful for his leadership in ensuring that museums may be included in the Save Our Stages funding." 

Finger Lakes

“Thank you to Senator Schumer for fighting to secure this SOS help.  Man, we’re hangin’ on by a thread out here.  My ‘dive’ is in an ‘Orange Zone,’ so it’s as tough as it gets.  We’ve spent 12 years presenting live roots music 5 to 7 nights a week…and hoping and praying to be able to open again down the road.  Blues, Jazz, Americana, Reggae, Folk, Country…all important to the life of this town.  This is beyond appreciated,” said Danny Deutsch, Lowly Saloon Owner of Abilene Bar and Lounge in Rochester

Aaron Gibalski, owner of the Bug Jar in Rochester said, “We can't thank Senator Schumer enough for supporting the SOS program. It is the necessary lifeline for an entire community of local artists, musicians and the countless behind-the-scene workers to survive these trying times.”

"Words cannot express how important this bill is to the survival of the theater industry. We are so grateful to Senator Schumer and countless others who have fought for us, and who understand the importance of the arts industry in our society.  Our organizations still face many challenges, but with the passage of the Save our Stages Act we have a renewed hope for the future," said Chris Mannelli, Executive Director at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester.

Susan Monagan, Executive Director of the Smith Center for the Arts in Geneva said, “We are so inspired by Congress’ willingness to come together and push forward this legislation that will have such a direct impact on arts and entertainment organizations. While we support sensible, public health measures that keep our communities’ safe, we are experiencing up to 90% loss of revenue and anticipate being closed well into 2021, due to health concerns posed by large gatherings. We cannot thank Senator Schumer enough for pushing to deliver this legislation. It offers us a lifeline, a financial bridge to get us through to a day when we can turn the lights back on, open our doors, and welcome our audiences back to share in artistic experiences that educate, entertain, and enlighten.”

Linda Glosser, Executive V.P. of the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL) said, “The Rochester Broadway Theatre League is incredibly grateful to Senator Schumer for being a powerful advocate for our theatre, and so many others in New York State, who have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.   We recognize, appreciate and commend his unwavering commitment to our industry and the thousands of people who work in it, through his sponsorship of the Save our Stages Act.”

"This SOS legislation and assistance is invaluable at this time to our theater and many other small independent theaters who are struggling to keep their doors open. It came at the perfect time and will ensure that we remain open, keep our employees employed and continue to serve our community.  Without this funding we, as well as many of our theater owner friends, we're contemplating shutting our doors for good in the coming months," said Tami and Scott Treutlein, owners of the Spotlight Theater in Warsaw.

“Senator Schumer knows how important cultural organizations are to the vibrancy of the Rochester area. His support for the “Save our Stages” Act made a huge difference. We are fortunate to have him as a friend and supporter of the arts and we can’t thank him enough for his hard work on our behalf, “ said Norm Silverstein CEO of WXXI/Little Theatre

Central New York

“At the end of a very long 2020, the Landmark Theatre is immensely grateful for the support of the Save Our Stages program. These grants will allow the Landmark Theatre and other venues across New York and the country to navigate the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and be ready when it is safe again for our communities to gather. We would like to extend our thanks to Senator Schumer and all of our elected representatives who recognize the cultural and economic value of our stages,” said Mike Intaglietta Executive Director of Syracuse’s Landmark Theater.

"We can finally have a slight sigh of relief. To Senator Schumer and everyone who worked on this we can't thank you enough," said Dan Mastronardi Owner of Syracuse’s Westcott Theater.

"The bipartisan support for Save Our Stages means a vital lifeline to cultural venues across the country is on the way.  We're so grateful to our community for their advocacy for arts and culture workers, and to Senator Schumer for championing this effort, ensuring that our organizations and venues are ready to  welcome audiences back in 2021," said Jill A. Anderson Managing Director of Syracuse Stage.

“2020 was a pretty grim year for small, independent music venues like the 443 Social Club, and there were a lot of moments we weren’t sure our business would survive. We’re absolutely ecstatic the #SaveOurStages aid package was passed in Congress this week. Thanks to the relentless efforts of NIVA and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and we’re looking forward to coming back better than ever in 2021,” said Julie Leone Owner of Syracuse’s 443 Social Club.

“Save our Stages is the vital assistance performing arts venues need to survive until we are able to fully resume programming. Redhouse is grateful to Senator Schumer and all of his efforts to ensure this was included in the current stimulus bill. These funds will allow us to continue and be here for our community in the future and contribute to the economic recovery in Central New York,” said Samara J. Hannah, Executive Director, Syracuse’s Redhouse Arts Center.

“In addition to taking so many of our lives, the Covid19 virus has ravaged the cultural fabric of our community. I want to applaud Senator Schumer for his successful effort to repair this community and to begin the process of making us whole again,” said Nat Tobin, Owner of Manlius Art Cinema.

North Country

“The Save Our Stages effort by Chuck Schumer and Amy Klobuchar and others was absolutely necessary. Our small town, single screen 685 seat movie theater will have been shutter by COVID restrictions a full year in March of 2021. We believe the movie industry will come back but it will take a while. Awhile without support would likely be too long of a wait for most venues, big or small. This is good news for both music and movie venues. Very much appreciated and needed,” said Patrick and Patricia O’Brien, Owners of Town Hall Theater in Lowville.

Mohawk Valley

“The bill is welcome relief for the entire country and local communities. The Stanley Theatre looks forward to returning to an energized economy once the fear of COVID passes. This bill supports everyone and we should tip our hat to leaders like Senator Schumer for his unrelenting support. The portion of the bill that focuses on live entertainment is an acknowledgement of the disastrous impact COVID and its related closures has meant for not only venues, but also for artists, actors, promoters, stagehands and facilities like ours. The Stanley Theatre is nothing but hopeful that this is the push forward we need to get to a safe and prosperous reopening,” said Lisa A. della Santina-Wilsey Executive Director of Utica’s Stanley Theater.

“Organizations like Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute are all about bringing people and the arts together for dynamic, live experiences. For the last nine months, our performing arts program has been interrupted, which has a detrimental overall effect. The Save Our Stages funding will help sustain the organization until we can once again welcome audiences to our programs,” said Anna D'Ambrosio, President and CEO of Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica

“In these especially trying times it would be very easy to push the arts to the back burner. But the importance of entertainment and the arts should not be underestimated, either from a quality of life prospective or from an economic one. Though hardly alone, this industry has suffered profoundly these past several months, and we are grateful to Senator Schumer for his efforts to provide us with the tools to bounce back,” said Art Pierce, Executive Director, Capitol Arts Complex in Rome.

Hudson Valley

“The Forestburgh Playhouse has been producing shows, hosting live performances, and providing educational opportunities here in the Hudson Valley since the 1940s. This year has been one that we have never faced before and the financial toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating,” said Franklin Trapp, Producing Artistic Director, Forestburgh Playhouse. “I thank Senator Schumer for leading the fight in Congress to include the Save Our Stages Act in the new stimulus bill. Save Our Stages Act will save the venues you love, including the Playhouse, across this nation.”

“The Save Our Stages act will make a monumental difference for independent venues across New York State. When we get on the other side of this pandemic, Save Our Stages will enable us to be financially able to bring joy to our customers again through performance right away,” said Peter Shapiro, Owner of Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. “I am grateful to Senator Schumer for taking the lead on this essential act and for his consistent support of the arts community.”

“We’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to Senator Schumer and our other brave legislators who fought so hard to make this legislation happen.  In the best of times it’s difficult for many arts organizations to thrive, but the last nine months has been particularly hard on our industry.  Dozens locally, and many hundreds more nationwide, have been forced to permanently shutter their doors due to the pandemic.  What we are losing is much more than just some entertainment on a Saturday night.  It’s through the arts that we translate the difficult topics faced by our country, like those we’ve experienced the last nine months.  The arts are therapeutic, inspirational, and challenging, allowing us to address the sensitive issues of mental wellness, social justice, and the environment from a vantage point that brings about real change.  Yes, it’s been a particularly difficult year, but with this stimulus we will once again be able to provide the important programming that will help our community heal,” said Michael Hoagland, Executive Director of Bedford Playhouse.

Specifically, the new program includes the following components:

  • Create a new grant program at the Small Business Administration to provide assistance to independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
  • Permit recipients to use grants for various costs, including those associated with COVID-19:
    • Rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases; and
    • PPE procurement, capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines.
  • Grants are narrowly targeted and appropriately calculated to provide 6 months of operating assistance for small and independent live venue operators and their industry partners.
    • Grants are equal to the lesser of 45% of gross revenue during 2019; or
    • $10 million
  • To ensure the hardest hit of eligible applicants receive assistance, there are two priority application periods. The first 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 90% of gross revenue can apply. The next 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 70% can apply. A reserve of 20% of overall appropriated funds, $3 billion out of the $15 billion provided, will remain available for all other eligible entities to apply for after 28 days.
  • There is a $2 billion set-aside of funds for eligible entities with 50 or fewer employees to ensure smaller applicants are not left out.
  • An entity is still eligible for a grant if they have received a PPP loan prior to implementation of the program, but the entity may not receive a PPP loan and a grant after implementation of the program.