New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson talked about the fight for “the heartbeat and soul of New York City” with a real fear that actors, stagehands and musicians are going to leave the city for more affordable places.

He sees the Save Our Stages Act introduced to Congress as an answer but warned that: “This Bill is not going to go anywhere until after the election. The current Republican Senate and the current president, I don’t think support this bill. So unless there are changes this November, I don’t know what we are going to do. And it’s scary to say that.”

Broadway and other theaters have been dark since mid-March, with little hope of reopening soon. “It’s hard to fathom that Broadway has basically been closed for six months now,” said Johnson in an interview with Frank DiLella on NY1 last night. “And that these theaters and cultural institutions are not going to open or be able to survive without help. The only thing that I think is going to save the most number of jobs and institutions is getting some federal money.”

He made it clear that he didn’t think this should be called a bailout. “A bailout is taking care of something when someone has made a mistake,” he explained. “What’s happening to Broadway and the arts community here in New York city is no fault of theirs. They haven’t done anything wrong.”

He said that a big fear was the exodus of talent from the city. “They’re going to go to places where life is a little bit easier and where COVID-19, didn’t affect them in the same crazy ways that affected us here,” he continued. “We do not want to lose these people. We don’t want these Broadway actors getting a job in an office building somewhere because they feel like they have to and not return to the thing that they’ve worked on their entire lives. They make up the heartbeat and soul of New York city, which is arts and culture and theater.”

Johnson promised to fight to “make sure that Broadway comes back bigger than ever”. He concluded: “The first night that Broadway opens, I will be there. I will be there at a show to really say that New York is back.”