As lawmakers continue to work on the next coronavirus stimulus package, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) has launched a massive lobbying effort with those on Capitol Hill to make sure theaters are included in any potential funding in the wake of the global pandemic. In a statement released by the trade association Tuesday, the group says upwards of 70-percent of theaters in the United States could close permanently or file for bankruptcy by the end of the year.
“Without such help, 70% of the theaters in the country could file for bankruptcy or close permanently by the end of the year. More than 70,000 jobs could be lost permanently," the groups statement says. "While many small business theater operators were able to access Paycheck Protection Program loans, given the duration of the pandemic, those funds have been exhausted and theater revenues are still close to nothing. The current rules of the program remain challenging for theaters that are shuttered or doing little business.”
Earlier this year, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Save Our Stages Act, a dedicated stimulus bill to help provide funding to concert halls, theaters, and other places of entertainment. At the time, the bill was proposing the federal government provide upwards of $10 billion in funding to help keep the industry afloat through the end of the pandemic. Since then, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have co-sponsored the bill on condition cinemas be included alongside live events venues.
“We seek a bipartisan solution for pandemic relief now that would include these provisions to preserve moviegoing in America," NATO's statement includes.
It has yet to be seen when — or if — a new stimulus package will be pushed through, especially with the general election just two weeks away. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has continued negotiations with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, though a deal has yet to be reached on language contained within the overall bill.
Over the weekend, Pelosi set a deadline of Tuesday for the two sides to come to an agreement in order to get a bill passed through both houses of the Capitol building.
“It isn’t that this day was a day that we would have a deal, it was a day that we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step,” Pelosi told Bloomberg Tuesday morning.