Government financial assistance for beleaguered movie theatre operators is on the way. Funding for independent theatres that had been championed through the Save our Stages initiative was included in the $900B Coronavirus Response and Relief Act signed into law last Sunday evening by President Trump.
Within the package, a special allocation of $15B is earmarked for live performance venues, museums and motion picture theatres. Talent representatives and promoters may also qualify for these grants. Excluded from the program are large entities, including any publicly traded company or those operating internationally or in more than 10 US states. Details on the application process will be forthcoming quickly since the intention of the program is to provide emergency financial relief to arts and entertainment venues that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike last spring’s Paycheck Protection Program, the new aid will be provided as grants, rather than loans which can be forgiven if the recipient uses them for payroll expenses primarily. This restriction has been problematic for many theatres because the payroll needed to be paid during a period when many had been forced to remain closed by local health authorities.