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CT theaters call for lawmakers to pass ‘Save Our Stages Act’ to keep doors open amid pandemic

Connecticut

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Connecticut theaters are coming together to ask for help keeping their doors open. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was joined by representatives from the state’s entertainment industry Monday. They’re calling for lawmakers to pass the Save Our Stages Act. 

The people behind this movement say time is running out to save the venues that mean so much to communities across Connecticut.

The Save Our Stages act would give independent music and event operators access to Small Business Administration grants. Those funds would help them keep their doors open and keep their employees working. 

“We need aid for small businesses, aid for our theaters, aid for the performing arts that are literally key to our cultural survival,” said Blumenthal. “Save our stages, and we need to do it now.”

They say losing theaters like Long Wharf would take a toll on the local economy — adding that entertainment drives revenue to neighboring restaurants, hotels, and stores.

“Arts and culture contribute $800 million to economic activity in the State of Connecticut,” said Adriane Jefferson, director cultural affairs for the City of New Haven. “We’re a $1 billion industry. For every $1 investment, it’s an $8 return and so we are major economic drivers.”

“In a typical year, the economic impact to the state of Connecticut of just our six producing theaters is over $40 million,” said Kit Ingui, Long Wharf Theatre. “Long Wharf is part of Connecticut Flagship Producing Theaters (CFPT). We employ more than 1,700 Connecticut residents each year and because we produce and build each of our shows here, nearly every dollar of our budget goes right back into our local economies.”

These theaters are aware that they won’t welcome in patrons anytime soon — even when they can reopen — they’re facing the costs of retrofitting their spaces to suit social distancing. 

Combined, independent theaters in Connecticut have lost millions in revenue due to Covid 19 restrictions.

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