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Broadway returns a portion of money given to help buy theater tickets

By Michael Kuchwara, The Associated Press
Saturday March 30, 2002

NEW YORK — Broadway has given back a bit of what it got from the City of New York to help the theater after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center — and the money will go to other needy arts organizations. 

This week, the League of American Theatres and Producers returned $1 million of a $2.5 million stipend given last fall by the city to purchase tickets to 11 Broadway shows that were facing the prospect of a bleak winter. 

“This is a good example of the way things should work,” league president Jed Bernstein said Monday. “The private sector (Broadway) helped itself first — then sought out the support of the city to assist in stimulating an economic recovery for the tourism industry as a whole, using Broadway as a lynchpin.” 

Those tickets purchased were given to the Twin Towers Fund and to support a special program from the city’s tourist bureau, NYC & Company, designed also to help restaurants, hotels and retail businesses hit by the tourist slump. 

Tickets were purchased to such long-running shows as “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera” as well as newer productions such as “Proof,” “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” and “Contact.” 

Yet winter-season sales were better than anticipated, due to several factors including mild weather, special discounts and other promotions and an increase in theatergoers from the New York metropolitan area, up 16 percent from the previous year, Bernstein said. 

The league reported that winter grosses were off by only 5.4 percent and attendance by 9.8 percent from the previous year, which had been a record year. By the end of the winter, many of the shows in the program had had profitable weeks, resulting in the return of the money. 

The $1 million will go to a variety of service organizations including the Center for Arts Education, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the American Music Center and the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York.