New York’s comedy clubs, theaters and other live venues are very fund-worthy.
That’s the message Sen. Chuck Schumer and Jerry Seinfeld — sorry, no Danny Tartabull — teamed up to deliver Sunday, pushing for federal legislation to support city entertainment spots forced to close up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This bill is so important to keep these places going,” said Seinfeld, 66, from the stage of Chelsea’s Gotham Comedy Club. “It makes the city exciting to walk down the street and know right inside that door, some people are on stage and doing things. It gives the city energy and electricity.”
Schumer, the Senate minority leader, is advocating for the Save Our Stages Act, which would procure a not-so-junior mint of $10 billion to keep afloat venues that have seen their profits undergo significant shrinkage.
The funds would go into a Small Business Administration, which would open up the vault for venues, producers, promoters and talent reps to receive grants of up to $12 million to cover six months of expenses, Schumer said.
“Many people, many of the artists are supporting it because they know how important this is,” said the state’s senior senator, noting that the funds will largely, but not exclusively, benefit New York venues. “And most of them got their starts in places like this.”
In addition to bipartisan backing on Capitol Hill, performers including Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Foo Fighters, Jay Leno and Tiffany Haddish have thrown their star power behind it, Schumer said.
With the coronavirus killing independent clubs, Schumer said the alternative is austerity now, calamity later.
“They are the lifeblood of New York. Thdey are dying right now,” he said. “They were the first to close with COVID … and they will be the last to open. And if they don’t get help, most of them, three-quarters of them will go under.”
The Brooklyn-born Seinfeld, who last month defended New York from naysayers declaring it dead from the coronavirus, again sang the praises of the city and its crucible clubs on Sunday.
“New York is so special for performers. When you come into Manhattan as a performer, and you stand in front of New York audiences, you find out if you’re actually good enough to have a career in the arts,” the stand-up legend turned TV star said. “It’s a cliche from the song, [but] if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
“New York will always be the greatest city in the world, no matter what we go through. We will change, we will have difficulties, we will compensate, we will reform businesses and culture, but it keeps going,” he continued. “The greatest place in the world.”