Press Release

Welch Discusses Introduction of ‘STAGE Act’ with Leaders and Stars of Theater Industry During National Theatre Week 

Apr 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.  During the first-ever National Theatre Week, celebrated April 9-11, 2024, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) welcomed theater leaders and actors associated with the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition and the Theatre Communications Group to Capitol Hill to discuss the recently-introduced Supporting Theater and the Arts to Galvanize the Economy (STAGE) Act of 2024 

The STAGE Act, unveiled by Senator WelchSenator John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01) earlier this week, would establish a new grant program to support the nonprofit theater industry through a lagging recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Local arts are a vital part of every community, providing educational opportunities to our children, strengthening bonds between neighbors, creating jobs, and giving back to the local economy. But nonprofit theaters have struggled to recover after the pandemic, often operating on very thin margins—and they need federal help to keep the marquee lit and the curtain open,” said Senator Welch. “It was a pleasure to meet with renowned theater leaders and celebrated actors on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the importance of the STAGE Act and the arts. Our bill will provide a crucial boost for nonprofit theaters to ensure the show can go on.” 

Senators Welch, Fetterman and Representative Bonamici met with Jesse Tyler Ferguson (star of Modern Family and Broadway’s Take Me Out); Danai Gurira (Playwright of Broadway’s Eclipsed, Black PantherThe Walking Dead); Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater; and Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

The bill is endorsed by over 170 theaters from across the United States, as well as national theaters, arts, and economic organizations, including: the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition (PNTC); the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE); the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC); the Theatre Communications Group (TCG); the League of Resident Theaters (LORT); the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT); the Theatre for Young Audiences/USA; and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). 

The nonprofit arts sector generated $151.7 billion in direct spending by organizations and attendees in 2022, and $29.1 billion in tax revenue. The nonprofit arts sector supported 2.6 million jobs and provided $101 billion in personal income to workers in communities across America.  

Despite these economic contributions and the support of the public, the nonprofit arts—especially nonprofit theaters—are struggling to stay open after the pandemic. Audiences are down 20-50% from pre-2020 levels. Inflation and higher-than-average operating costs are hurting the bottom-line. Some theaters have mounted productions with limited runs or scaled-back seasons, and many throughout the country have closed.   

Read more on the STAGE Act here.