Broadway Hit Hamilton Could Get Up to $50 Million Federal Bailout
When it comes to wasteful COVID-19 spending, it might seem like there aren’t many things the federal government hasn’t done.
But just you wait.
Broadway mega-hit Hamilton will receive at least $30 million and possibly as much as $50 million in federal bailout funds, The New York Times reported Wednesday, despite its status as one of the most successful and profitable musicals in American history. The funds are being delivered through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, a $15 billion portion of the $900 billion COVID relief bill passed by Congress last December. Each production affected by the pandemic is allowed to apply for up to $10 million from the program, but Hamilton will get several times that total because the Broadway production and each of four touring shows are separately eligible, according to the Times.
Indeed, it must be nice to have Washington on your side.
Jeffrey Seller, Hamilton’s lead producer, tells the Times that none of the bailout money is going to the show’s producers or investors and that it won’t be paid out in royalties to artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda. Instead, the money will be used to “remount those shuttered productions” and pay off bills that accumulated during the show’s pandemic-induced hiatus.
Don’t buy this argument. Money is fungible and every dollar that taxpayers contribute to “remount those shuttered productions” is a dollar that the show’s investors and producers won’t have to spend or borrow to do the same. Let’s be very clear about this: Hamilton was absolutely going to return to the stage whether the federal government kicked in $50 million or nothing at all.
Worse, every dollar spent bailing out mega-hit Broadway shows is a dollar that can’t be spent to help get smaller productions and theaters that don’t have access to private credit and investments on the scale that Hamilton surely does. If there is a
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