Broadway hit “Hamilton” could receive as much as $50 million from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, a $16 billion federal aid program that provides pandemic relief to live-event businesses, according to a report by the New York Times.
The pandemic shut down the Broadway production along with four tour productions. Through this grant program, each production was eligible for $10 million to make up for lost revenue. (There is also a show in London, but it is not eligible for the grant.)
The Tony Award-winning musical has been playing to a full house since it opened in 2015, and millions have seen it. While some may be critical of a highly successful production receiving federal aid, the show’s lead producer Jeffrey Seller told the New York Times the goal is to return Hamilton’s finances to pre-pandemic levels.
It is standard practice for shows to separately incorporate touring productions, but Hamilton has the largest number of tours due to its popularity, and therefore is eligible for $50 million. The Broadway production and two of the tours have each received grants, while the remaining two are still waiting to hear back, the paper reported.
Seller told the New York Times that none of the grant money will be going to producers, investors or royalty payments. The money will, instead, be used for reopening costs and reimbursements for pandemic-related expenses that the productions incurred. These are all costs the productions had to take on when they were not making any income, he said.
Some of the reopening expenses include rehearsals for actors, musicians and stagehands, workshops for new cast members, repairs and replacements of equipment, transporting people and sets, Covid-19 safety personnel and marketing the shows.
A spokesperson from “Hamilton” wasn’t immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.
The relief program for cultural events and live entertainment venues was included in the second Covid-19 relief package and was aimed at sustaining the industry, which had been hit hard by pandemic. Safety measures resulted in many of these venues being shuttered for months. Eligible businesses, including music clubs, theaters and promoters, have access to up to $10 million based on their gross revenue from 2019.
The program got off to slow start after its inital launch was delayed by technology glitches, which have since been resolved. It was then criticized for slow turnaround in processing applications. More than 14,000 small businesses across the country have applied for the grants, according to the Small Business Association.
Last week, Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said the SBA will process most aid applications for shuttered venues by early July.
Others receiving $10 million grants include the Nederlander Organization, which owns nine theatres in New York, and Jujamcyn Theatres, which owns five theatres and currently houses “The Book of Mormon” production, according to the agency’s records.