Theaters Struggle As They Face Continued Closures

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Laura Mogul from the Landmark met with Suozzi during the press conference. (photo courtesy of Tom Suozzi’s Office)

Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens) held a press conference with local owners and directors of many Long Island entertainment venues to urge the Senate to vote on and pass the Heroes Act 2.0. This legislation would provide billions of dollars to the entertainment industry, as well as restaurants and catering halls.

“On March 22, nonessential businesses in New York shut down,” Suozzi stated in a press release. “The reopening and recovery of businesses has been uneven. Independently owned live entertainment venues, as well as musicians, actors, comedians, promoters, stagehands and the local restaurants that count on the business that these venues bring in, have been financially devastated by the pandemic.”

Restaurants and live entertainment venues were some of the first businesses to shut down at the start of the pandemic, and still have yet to fully reopen. According to a bi-county study released earlier this year by Nassau and Suffolk County on the economic impacts of COVID-19, the hospitality and entertainment industry lost 82,000 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House-passed COVID-19 relief package includes two provisions that would provide direct relief to the hospitality industry. The first provision, the Save Our Stages Act, would provide $10 billion in assistance to live entertainment venues. The second provision, the RESTAURANTS Act, would create a $120 billion grant program for the restaurant and service industry.

“We are urging the Senate to act on this legislation now,” Suozzi said. “If not, many of our beloved venues might not survive. We can’t let the music die.”

The Landmark on Main Street, located in Port Washington, held their last show before the shutdown on March 11. Laura Mogul, the executive director of the Landmark stated that entertainment venues have been left in the dark regarding reopening procedures and guidelines.

“We have no timeline and no guidance to help us figure out how to prepare,” Mogul said. “It’s like concerts don’t exist in their minds, we’re just not even mentioned. Aquariums, art galleries, museums—those are all activities that have guidelines—even shopping malls. We don’t even know if they are going to apply those same standards to an entertainment venue.”

Without any finite reopening plans, the Landmark has been forced to cancel all of their shows. From March 11 to Oct. 1, the Landmark has canceled 149 events and bookings and they expect to cancel another 35 to 40 more events through December. Given the loss of revenue from the shows, the Landmark was able to receive a PPP loan, which allowed them to keep their staff on a full salary until June. They also were able to receive a SBA loan, to help cushion the revenue that was lost from ticket sales and events.

“Landmark as a nonprofit has been very fiscally responsible for many years,” Mogul said. “When this first hit, we sat down and really looked at our cash flow and our resources very carefully. We’ve been careful with our resources and we will get through this, but it will be tough.”

Although the theater has remained dark, Mogul stated that the Landmark has been trying to use this time productively. They have made a number of renovations to the building to ensure patrons will be safe upon their return including installing hand sanitizing stations, purchasing hand-held thermometers, gloves and masks. The Landmark has also made improvements to the lighting and renovated their offices. They are also looking into installing a ventilation system to ensure proper air flow onces patrons are allowed back into the building.

“We treat this place like our home.” Mogul said. “The building itself is home to 58 units of senior housing. There are seniors living in apartments directly above our theatre. Those people are our family at Landmark, so COVID safety is really top of the line for us.”
Currently, the Landmark has been canceling all their scheduled shows on a month-by-month basis. Many musicians have canceled their tour dates, making most shows going into January and February 2021 canceled as well.

To help provide entertainment to the community, the Landmark has been coordinating with several Port Washington community organizations. The entertainment venue has been providing the music for Port Dine and Shop and they hope to continue providing outdoor concerts while the weather remains good. They have also been partnering with nonprofits in Port, such as the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society to provide virtual programming.
“Our mission is community service,” Mogul said. “We are not just a straight entertainment venue. Everything we do is designed to bring people together for shared experiences, and part of that is listening to live music and comedy and some of that is performing on our stage. All of those things are part of fulfilling our mission of community service.”

Throughout the next several months, the Landmark is hoping to increase their virtual entertainment, events and live-streaming programs. For more information about the Landmark on Main Street or to see a list of events, visit www.landmarkonmainstreet.org.
—Additional information provided by Tom Suozzi’s office

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