Lack of Federal Relief Leaves Theater in the Dark

by Vins
Published: Updated:

As of March 2021, more than 51,000 musical theater actors have been unemployed for over a year. This does not include the 150,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees unions (IATSE), otherwise known as the backstage crew.

One by one Americans have been able to return to their designated jobs since the COVID-19 outbreak, including live sports events, movie production, and even television award shows. However, due to the organization of Broadway and other live Theater venues, actors and stage crew members have yet to hear an answer on when the curtains will rise again. For many, unemployment checks have been barely enough to cover daily expenses. Some Broadway shows were forced to close their doors permanently as a result of lost profits during the pandemic.

IATSE and the Actor’s Union have called on the Federal Government numerous times for support but so far have failed to receive it, leaving over 200,000 stage actors and crew members jobless or forced to find new careers—even  as they watch other forms of live entertainment get back to business.


Helen Lewis, “When Will We Want to Be in a Room full of Strangers Again?,” The Atlantic, May 12, 2020,

Allegra D’Virgilio, “Live Art in the Pandemic: The Federal Government’s Responsibility to Theater,” Northeastern University Political Review, August 22, 2020,

Greg Evans, “Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Becomes Broadway’s First Long-Running Coronavirus Casualty: Producers Announce Permanent Closing,” Deadline,  May 14, 2020,

Student Researcher: Niki Badua (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D Cohen (Indian River State College)