Pasadena’s historic Pasadena Playhouse will be on full “red alert” Tuesday evening.
The Playhouse will bathe its 100 year-old building and tower in red light at 9 p.m. Tuesday, joining 1,500 other buildings across North America that will be lighting up their venues at 9 p.m. local times to raise public awareness about the pandemic economic crisis facing the live events industry, which has essentially been closed since March.
Additionally, according to the advocacy website, ExtendPUA.org, the goal of the event is to urge the Senate to vote for the RESTART Act and to support an extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance program and the full $600 FPUC, as part of a full comprehensive pandemic relief package.
“We want people to know that this is happening in our community right now,” said Danny Feldman, Pasadena Playhouse producing artistic director. “There is no work for our crew, and there hasn’t been since March. This is devastating for us.”
As Feldman told Pasadena Now Monday, the theatre has had to furlough a large percentage of its staff.
“Restaurants can open and serve with restrictions,” Feldman added, “but live events and gatherings will be the very last things to come back when this pandemic is over.”
This is the second pandemic the Pasadena Playhouse has had to weather in its 100-year history. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic ran from February 1918 to April 1920, the theatre’s first year.
‘We got through that one, and we’ll get through this, but our crew people need help,” said Feldman.
To that end, Feldman told the City Council Finance Committee last week that “It is Pasadena’s rich cultural history that makes this City great. We need to tend to that right now.”
The City Council’s Finance Committee, in response, unanimously voted to create a relief program that would help struggling artists and creative organizations.
If approved by the City Council next Monday, the Pasadena Arts & Culture Relief Grant Program will provide an estimated 60 grants of up to $20,000 each to Pasadena-based artists and organizations.
A one-time grant of up to $20,000 would be awarded on a sliding scale based on demonstrated impacts and need. The program is structured to align with the city’s annual grant program.
“Because Pasadena’s arts and cultural organizations and the artists they employ are essential to our community, their recovery will be vital to our societal health, well-being and economic restoration,” Rochelle Branch, the city’s cultural affairs manager stated.
“By providing a platform for these struggling organizations,” said Branch, “the city would be reiterating its commitment to this important segment of our community with a direct injection of relief funds.”
So far, Boston Court, the Armory Center for the Arts, and the Pasadena Playhouse have expressed support for the program.
Additionally, Jenny Smith, a spokesperson for Boston Court, said that while Boston Court did not have the “infrastructure” to light up its theatre building, it was in support of the movement. A spokesperson for A Noise Within theater company, said that they would not be participating in the event.
ExtendPUA is also asking for “comprehensive long term relief for the arts, entertainment, and live events industries which employ millions of people who will not be able to return to work until face-to-face industries are able to operate at standard capacity, insurance brokers are able to cover them, and audience members feel safe to attend.”
The group is also asking for the Senate to extend health care relief including:
100% subsidy for the COBRA program to protect workers’ healthcare, and extension of eligibility to 36 months; the expansion of Medicaid and requiring, not just allowing, all states to extend Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing to the uninsured, as well as continued open enrollment period until the pandemic is over for all people to access or change their health insurance based on their new financial situations.
The Brookings Institute economic report, Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on America’s Creative Economy, said recently, “Based on our creative-industry analysis, we estimate losses of 2.7 million jobs and more than $150 billion in sales of goods and services for creative industries nationwide, representing nearly a third of all jobs in those industries and 9% of annual sales.
“The fine and performing arts industries will be hit hardest,” the report added, “suffering estimated losses of almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales. These estimated losses represent 50% of all jobs in those industries and more than a quarter of all lost sales nationwide.”