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Heroes Act 2.0

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi speaks at an Oct. 3 press conference asking the federal government to pass the Heroes Act 2.0, which would provide direct relief to the live entertainment industry. Photo from Souzzi’s office

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) stood alongside owners and directors of some of Long Island’s live entertainment venues and restaurants, urging the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to vote on and pass the Heroes Act 2.0.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Suozzi visited The Paramount theater in Huntington begging the federal government to “Save Our Stages” with the new Heroes Act, which would provide billions in grants to save struggling industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The Heroes Act 2.0 would also provide essential state and local aid, SALT deduction, testing, unemployment insurance, $1,200 stimulus checks and other provisions to move the country forward, according to the congressman. It would provide direct relief to the live entertainment industry, as well as the restaurant and catering hall industries.

“On March 22, nonessential businesses in New York shut down,” Suozzi said. “The reopening and recovery of businesses has been uneven. Independently owned live entertainment venues, as well as musicians, actors, comedians, promoters, stagehands and the local restaurants that count on the business that these venues bring in, have been financially devastated by the pandemic.”

The Democratic-controlled House has already passed the COVID-19 relief package, including two provisions that would provide direct relief to the hospitality industry. The first provision, the Save Our Stages Act, would provide $10 billion in assistance to live entertainment venues. The second provision, the Restaurants Act, would create a $120 billion grant program for the restaurant and service industry.

“We are urging the Senate to act on this legislation now,” Suozzi said. “If not, many of our beloved venues might not survive. We can’t let the music die.”

Kevin O’Neill, owner of the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, said his venue, like many others, had to close in March. But unlike other industries who were able to make some revenue during the shutdown, live entertainment venues were unable to make any profit since their doors had to shut.

“Our industry has been decremented,” he said. “A theater can’t do takeout. We’re hoping the Senate comes to a compromise for the stimulus package to provide relief to live venues.”

Everyone at Monday’s gathering agreed that theaters help bring money back into the community.

“Remember every $1 spent on a ticket is worth $12 to other businesses in the local community,” said Adam Ellis, director of marketing at The Paramount. “Music and entertainment can act as a beacon of light and hope during these tough times. Hesitating is not an option — without the legislation an entire American industry that benefits millions is in imminent jeopardy.”

The local hospitality and entertainment industry lost 82,000 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released in July by Nassau and Suffolk counties on the economic impacts of the virus.

This is more than any other industry on Long Island.To