Broadway will remain closed for at least two more months, industry leaders said on Wednesday when they officially recognized what is well known: their original goal of reopening in mid-April had become impossible due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Broadway League, a trade association representing producers and theater owners, said the 41 Broadway homes would remain closed at least until June 7th. However, industry leaders generally expect theaters to remain closed longer – many say a post-reopening best-case scenario follows on the weekend of July 4th, and it is possible that the industry won̵
“We hope the restrictions will be lifted by June 7,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. “If it is not, we will continue to monitor government restrictions and notify ticket holders as soon as we know what the restrictions are.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who was asked about Broadway’s announcement at a press conference in Albany, said it was too early to determine when major gatherings could resume. “I wouldn’t use what Broadway thinks as a barometer for anything unless they’re in the public health arena,” he said.
He added, “Before you go to the Broadway theaters, people will say, ‘When can I go back to work? When can I go back to school? When will the other major services open? “Before you go to a play, there will be many other questions, and that will be a function of the numbers.”
The pandemic that killed tens of thousands of people around the world and affected the global economy has also devastated the theater industry. Broadway is not only an important center for the art form, but also a big business: the industry drew 14.8 million customers last season and sales of $ 1.8 billion.
The entire industry, like so many others, is on a break, costing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.
The spring and summer program has already been canceled in other areas of the world of performing arts – all five festivals in Edinburgh, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and nonprofits in New York, including the Lincoln Center Theater and the Roundabout Theater Company. In the UK, the West End theaters in London canceled all performances until May 31st, and in Canada the Mirvish theaters in Toronto closed “at the earliest” by June 30th.
Broadway has declined to officially announce a distant reopening date for several reasons: ticket vendors are reluctant to refund more tickets than necessary earlier than necessary; Every extension of the degree requires further consideration as to whether and how unemployed people can be compensated or receive health benefits at a time when there is no income at the box office. Advancing to government mandates could jeopardize insurance coverage. (Theater producers and 14 unions are currently negotiating a possible expansion of health services for workers affected by the ongoing interruption of performances.)
However, theater hosts also expect their stages to recover more slowly than in some other parts of the economy, as live performances tend to bring together a large number of people in a confined space, which could be considered a risk to public health, older audiences, a population that is particularly susceptible to this corona virus.
Broadway has even more challenges than other parts of the theater world: it is heavily dependent on tourism and it is not clear when visitors from across the country and around the world will be thrilled to visit New York again. And the high production costs of Broadway shows mean high ticket costs that can be an obstacle during a recession or depression.
The league said that people who had already bought tickets for Broadway shows by June 7 should soon receive an email about refunds or exchanges; If such an email does not arrive by April 12, the league recommends that ticket holders contact the organization or company that sold them the ticket.
The uncertain Broadway schedule has hampered the Tony Awards, which recognize Broadway plays and musicals. The ceremony, which was originally scheduled for June 7th, was Postponed indefinitely.
Some options that are being discussed in the industry: The Tonys could extend the admission deadline, which was April 23, for shows to take part in this year’s awards, and hold a ceremony later in the year. But the longer Broadway stays closed, the less practical this will seem due to the time it takes to preview and open a show, and then the time to around 850 Tony voters across the country give to see them.
An alternative: Honor a shortened 2019-20 season if you only consider the shows that opened before the shutdown on March 12. This does not include 16 shows scheduled to open between this date and April 23rd.
Another option: The Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, which produce the awards together, could consolidate the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, and all shows that opened over a two-year period could be presented at one award ceremony for the next Award compete year.
In any case, the organizers hope that CBS will agree to a program that will be coordinated with the reopening of Broadway and will celebrate the theater to remind viewers of the joys of the art form.
Jesse McKinley contributed to the reporting from Albany.