Theater Owners Group Creates $2.4 Million Fund to Support Cinema Workers Laid Off Due to Coronavirus

Individuals who have worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of five years are eligible

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) said on Monday that it has created a $2.4 million fund in conjunction with the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation to provide financial assistance to movie theater workers impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The grant program is phase 1 of an eventual two-phase assistance program, The lobby group representing exhibitors said. The first phase will provide a stipend to any theater workers who meet specific criteria. The basic eligibility requirement for the grant: The person has to have worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of five years a of nd laid off due to COVID-19.

According to NATO, phase 2 of the two-pronged plan is being developed and will expand assistance to a larger group of people who work in the motion picture industry, in the event the current crisis continues for an extended period of time.

“We encourage all members of the motion picture industry who have the ability to make a much-needed contribution today,” NATO said in a statement. “Your donation will support film industry members who are struggling to mitigate the personal and professional impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The organization pointed out that the CARES Act, which was signed into law on Friday, includes a provision that creates a universal charitable deduction for at least one year. The stimulus also eliminated the 50% adjusted gross income limitation for charitable deductions from individuals and increased the Adjusted Gross Income limit for corporations from 10% to 25% of their taxable income for 2020.

NATO, along with a number of Hollywood guilds and groups, praised the passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, saying last week that it will “help movie theaters and their workers in so many ways.”

“We applaud the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate today to provide relief to movie theaters their employees and so many other public-facing industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” NATO said in a statement last week. “With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed.”

Cinemas are among the institutions in Hollywood that have been hit hardest as the increasing spread of the coronavirus has forced them to remain closed. AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest cinema chain, last week was forced to furlough 600 corporate employees, including CEO Adam Aron, after shuttering its theaters.

NATO specifically praised the bill’s $454 billion loan guarantee fund, expanded SBA programs for small businesses, a deferral of payroll taxes and other tax breaks, the tax credit for businesses that retain their workforce during the shutdown, and the expanded unemployment benefits.

“With this aid, movie theaters can get through this crisis confident in being able to re-open, knowing their vital, trained workforce is able to weather this pandemic and have jobs waiting for them when it is safe to reopen,” NATO said.

Click here to apply for an emergency grant.

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