Schumer Secured Dedicated Fed COVID Relief For NYC Venues And Theaters, Full Federal Subsidy for COBRA Health Insurance Program To Keep Laid Off Workers Insured, And An Extension Of Historic Unemployment Insurance Expansion

The Help’s Now On The Way; American Rescue Plan Provides Vital Support To Artists Out Of Work And NYC/BK Cultural Hubs Struggling To Stay Afloat

Schumer: COVID Package Keeps The Show Going In NYC

Standing at Elsewhere, a Brooklyn music venue, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer detailed the benefits available to New York’s live venues and artists through the American Rescue Plan, including critical relief to struggling independent live venues, movie theaters, and cultural institutions, a federal subsidy for the full cost of COBRA health insurance benefits, and additional federal unemployment insurance assistance for struggling New Yorkers, including for the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers and others in non-traditional employment. Schumer explained how each of these pieces of the legislation will help artists and live venues, like Elsewhere, stay afloat throughout the pandemic. Schumer said independent venues and artists are the beating heart New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the economy, and the COVID package that he negotiated, prioritizes the venues and everyone who supports them as the critical cultural hubs that they are.

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

“In our hearts, we are not only artists, but workers. I want to take you back to that moment when all of the arts, entertainment, and media industry was shut down. The lights went off in movie theaters. No more bright light reflected off movie screens. All music venues closed. Broadway and  live theater shut down - not just in New York, but all across the country. The people who make their living making the things that make life fun; who bring stories to life, had to stop working. But Senator Schumer was there. Senator Schumer immediately reached out to labor unions in this state and around the country to ask how he could help. And that matters - because we won’t have a real recovery until we bring back business and help the working people in New York State and this country. Real recovery means bringing back the arts and the American Rescue Plan is an important first step,” said SAG-AFTRA Vice President, New York Local President, Rebecca Damon.

Schumer added, “The 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 New York City.”

Schumer said that live venues are a part of one of the hardest hit industries right now, and the dedicated assistance will save many venues from permanently shutting their doors to the public. 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.

Schumer explained how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) benefits artists who are out of work and cultural hubs throughout the state struggling to stay afloat. Specifically, ARP covers 100 percent of costs for the COBRA health insurance program which will help workers who lost their job through no fault of their own retain their health insurance. Additionally, the legislation provides multiple sources of critical relief to struggling independent live venues, movie theaters and cultural institutions by allowing eligible entities under the Save Our Stages program to get a PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and it included $1.25 billion in additional funding for the program, on top of the $15 billion Schumer secured in December. The bill also provides billions in additional federal relief for struggling New Yorkers by extending the historic unemployment insurance reforms established in the CARES Act, through September 6, 2021. It continues the critical lifeline of the enhanced federal unemployment assistance, providing an additional $300 per week on top of all state and federal unemployment benefits. The bill extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers and others in non-traditional employment, as well as the additional weeks of federal unemployment insurance for workers who exhaust their regular state benefits.

Previously, in December 2020, Schumer negotiated the Save Our Stages Act into the bipartisan COVID relief package, which provided $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. Specifically, the COVID relief package created 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. These grants can be used for payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities, and personal protective equipment, and other needs, and will help keep the industry alive and rebound as New York emerges from the pandemic.


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