COVID-19 and the Broadway Community: A Look at the Impact

COVID-19 and the Broadway Community: A Look at the Impact


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Broadway community, which is comprised of actors, stagehands, producers, and a wide variety of other professionals who work in the theater industry. With Broadway shows shuttered beginning in March 2020, many people in the community had been left without work, struggling to make ends meet, and uncertain about the future of their careers and fearing for their health.


The economic impact of COVID-19 on the Broadway community has been significant. This loss of revenue has had a ripple effect, impacting not just those who work on Broadway, but also the businesses that surround it. Based on past annual numbers provided by the Broadway League from the shortened 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 seasons along with the non existent 2020-2021 season I made some educated estimates: the gross ticket sales lost could be somewhere in the ballpark of $3,300,000,000 and probably way closer to $4,000,000,000 based on how the market was trending pre-Covid. That's Billions. With a B.


While absolutely significant, the impact of COVID-19 goes beyond economics. The pandemic has also brought to light some of the structural inequalities that exist in the Broadway community. For example, it has highlighted the lack of diversity in the industry, particularly in terms of race. This lack of diversity is not new, but the pandemic has made it more visible, as many BIPOC artists and workers have been disproportionately impacted by the closure of Broadway shows. Often times people may overlook the disadvantages of their peers because they themselves have never felt what its like to have a real disadvantage in the workplace just because they were born a different race, gender, or class aside from what has ruled this country since it's inception. (We're looking at you cis-white-hetero men 👀)


Another issue that the pandemic has brought to light is the importance of mental health care in the Broadway community. Actors and stagehands have been left without their usual support systems, and the uncertainty about when theaters would reopen created a great deal of stress and anxiety. The dates kept getting pushed back out of an abundance of caution. Some still would argue that it was too soon to reopen when it did, but that's a whole other post in itself. The Broadway community has come together to support each other, but there is a need for more comprehensive mental health resources for those in the industry going forward which also includes allowing members of your productions to use and utilize said resources without being penalized or retaliated against, as protected by federal law.


No one ever said show business was easy, but there are some challenges that the industry creates often as a barrier to entry perhaps to weed out the chaff. Despite these challenges and more, the Broadway community has shown incredible resilience and adaptability. Many artists and workers have pivoted to new roles or found creative ways to continue their work during the pandemic. For example, many Broadway performers took to social media to share their skills and talents which allowed them the opportunity to connect with fans in ways we never dreamed were possible prior to 2020.


The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of supporting local arts and culture. As Broadway continues to face challenges, it is more important than ever to ensure we are lifting up the small businesses that build up our beloved community, like those that make up the Broadway Makers Marketplace. By supporting these artists, we can help ensure that the Broadway community continues to thrive as we continue our recovery and then hopefully continued success beyond.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of the Broadway community, both economically and in terms of the structural inequalities that exist in the industry. However, the community has shown resilience and adaptability in the face of these challenges. By supporting local arts and culture, we can help ensure that the community that has emerged from this crisis stays strong and continues to grow more stability in the future.

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