Councilman Aims to Create Emergency COVID-19 Fund for Small Live Theaters

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Councilman Mitch O'Farrell today announced his office is in the process of creating an emergency fund to support small-business owners of live performance venues who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

O'Farrell said he plans to reallocate $130,000 from the city's Arts Development Fee ordinance in order to preserve Hollywood Theatre Row and other adjacent venues and support services located in his Council District 13.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health guidelines have closed theatres across the city, limited filming and banned large gatherings,'' O'Farrell stated. “These major disruptions have led to mass layoffs and can potentially eliminate an entire and highly valued small theatre industry if urgent action is not taken.''

The proposal for the funding, introduced in the City Council on Wednesday, instructs the Department of Cultural Affairs and the City Attorney's Office to develop guidelines for a CD 13 emergency grant program for both for- profit and nonprofits that operate as live performing arts venues.

The proposal will be heard in the Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts, and River Committee and come back to the full City Council to consider in the coming weeks, the councilman said.

O'Farrell said many theaters and their support services survive month to month, and without the revenues from shows, classes, rentals and ticket sales, these professional theatres could permanently close their doors.

The funds would be redirected to a new CD 13 Emergency Grant Program to assist live performance spaces, rehearsal spaces, rental equipment businesses and others with operating expenses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

O'Farrell said he collaborated on this initiative with numerous live theater operators, including those along Hollywood Theatre Row on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The area, which was officially designated by the city in 2015, is home to the highest concentration of live theaters within the Los Angeles area, with more than a dozen that have been in operation for decades.

“I have great concerns of how the live theater community will evolve without a current source of revenue as a result of the Safer at Home order,'' said Daniel Henning, founding artistic director of The Blank Theatre in Hollywood. “This grant program is much appreciated, and I am grateful I was able to lend my voice to the conversation with Councilmember O'Farrell to get this program started.''

Theaters must have fewer than 50 employees (including sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals) in order to be considered for the program.

The program will allocate up to $5,000 to live performing arts venues and/or theatrical suppliers that provide in-kind support to such theatrical venues, O'Farrell said.

Photo: Getty Images

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