The cast of ‘Girl From North Country.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
The New York City arts community is standing in solidarity and asking for help in light of the unprecedented shut-down of performances across the city. In response to the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19 (coronavirus), members of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) issued the following statement:
“COBUG represents artists and workers who create theatre, opera, dance, and concerts on Broadway, at Lincoln Center, and at venues across the city. New York’s cultural performing arts institutions are key drivers to New York’s economy. The role that nearly 100,000 arts workers play cannot be overstated.
The suspension of performances across the city will take a massive financial toll on our members as well as New York’s economy. By shuttering productions, fundamental economic lifelines have been cut for those who spend their lives bringing joy and art to our city.
We are requesting emergency financial and health protections. There are no “work remotely” options for our members, many of whom are freelance or paid per performance. They face the stark reality of not being able to work and earn a living, perhaps for months, compounded by the fact that they could may lose their health coverage when they need it most: during a world pandemic.
We ask that the legislature prioritize our members’ needs, as they will be essential in re-energizing the important arts sector of New York’s economy when we re-emerge from this crisis.
We, therefore, call upon the government to pass immediate, substantial economic relief. Such relief should be earmarked specifically to replace lost earnings for our members who cannot work or license their work due to the effort to fight the COVID-19 virus, ensure health insurance coverage and extended sick leave and unemployment benefits, and provide emergency relief for those artists not otherwise assisted by such programs. Remedial measures should ensure the future survival of our members and the organizations for whom they work. There is no time to wait or to be delayed by political infighting. Please act now.
COBUG-affiliated unions represent the full spectrum of New York arts professionals, including: artists, dancers, singers, musicians, playwrights, directors and choreographers, costume, makeup artists, set and lighting designers, stagehands, stage managers, ushers and ticket-takers, box office personnel, wardrobe, hairstylists, porters, press agents and company managers. These are hard-working individuals who provide vital services to this state and city. We ask that New York State not turn their backs on our members as they will be needed to reenergize the important arts sector of New York’s economy when this crisis passes.”