Press Release

Welch Announces STAGE Act Adds Blumenthal and Padilla as Cosponsors

Apr 23, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today announced two new cosponsors of the Supporting Theater and the Arts to Galvanize the Economy (STAGE) Act: U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.). The lawmakers join Senators Welch, John Fetterman (D-Pa.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) in the Senate. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“The nonprofit theater industry supports hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals and artists, right in our local communities. But the recovery from the pandemic has been very difficult for so many theaters across America—from Vermont to California to Connecticut. If we’re going to keep those marquees lit, there needs to be federal help,” said Senator Welch. “I’m glad Senators Blumenthal and Padilla are joining us in support of the STAGE Act, and our fight to sustain this industry so crucial to our communities and local economies.”    

“Our local theaters are the cultural jewels of Connecticut—bringing creativity and economic vitality to our communities,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Our culture, education, and artistic values are bound together by our stages, and we must sustain their continued recovery from the pandemic. I’m proud to join Senator Welch in leading the STAGE Act to preserve these cultural tools and economic drivers for generations to come.”  

“Theater and performing arts cultivate California’s rich cultural and entertainment spaces and generate significant revenue as a key part of our state’s leading creative economy,” said Senator Padilla. “As these sectors continue to recover from the pandemic, I’m proud to partner with Senator Welch to support nonprofit theaters and stimulate our communities and local economies for years to come.” 

Professional nonprofit theaters, which enrich communities and bolster local economies in every state, have experienced a lagging recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Theaters have been forced to reduce staff and productions, and many have closed permanently. The STAGE Act will establish a new grant program, administered by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, that would provide $1 billion annually to support the industry. The grants would be used to pay rent and payroll, employ artists and support professional personnel, attract new audiences, invest in industry workforce development, study how to best sustain the long-term success of this industry, and– most importantly–ensure the show can go on.   

The STAGE Act is supported by over 170 theaters from across the United States—including theaters in California and Connecticut—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.