The government’s $2 trillion stimulus package includes provisions that should help unemployed actors and other members of the theater community.
The bill, passed by Senate Wednesday night, extends unemployment benefits to contract workers, freelancers and other nontraditional workers. That means that members of the Broadway industry who accepted a job but were not yet able to start work due to the impact of COVID-19 can file for unemployment claims.
Under the bill, unemployment benefits are also extended, with recipients receiving a $600-a-week increase to existing benefits. In most states, the benefits were extended to last for 39 weeks rather than 26 weeks. The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval.
Actors’ Equity, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and other entertainment unions lobbied for the inclusion of this unemployment provision in the bill.
“Our industry is structured far differently than most, and when this is over, we must have a ready and healthy workforce to jump-start local economies across America,” Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity, said in a statement. “I’m encouraged by the provisions of the new Senate bill, which will make it easier for arts professionals to get the unemployment assistance they need for work they had booked, but not yet started. We especially appreciate the efforts of Senator Schumer and the New York delegation, as well as Senator McConnell, for including these essential provisions.”