International members of “The Broadway League,” an association of performance directors and theater owners which presents the Tony Award, held a video conference under the theme of “The status of COVID-19 and countermeasures” on November 10 (local time). The conference was held urgently after it announced that all theaters will have their signs taken down and be closed until May 30 next year. It was the first time that the coronavirus became an agendum of the association’s meeting.
Producer Choi Yoon-ha who attended the meeting as an expatriate in the New York office of CJ ENM, the only member of The Broadway League in Korea, said that the performance industry is struggling to keep the sprit of “the show must go on” alive.
Even during the Great Depression, 40 percent of Broadway theaters did not close. They closed for two days and opened again on the third day when the 9/11 happened in 2001. They tried to convey the message that the show must go on. “The global performance industry’s psychological and economic shock goes beyond imagination,” said Choi. Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin promised, “I will make Broadway, which hires more than 97,000 workers and earns 14.8 billion dollars per year, overcome the current crisis and resume performances again as soon as possible.”
Korea was a target of envy and a role model in the meeting. The agenda of the meeting, which rotated around popular shows in the U.S., have been changed. “Broadway always looks for something new. It responded positively to BTS, film “Parasite” and Korea’s musical “Maybe a happy ending. Korean shows are going viral,” said Choi.
Korea’s know-hows around putting up shows while conducting quarantine activities successfully have been actively discussed. Overseas attendees already analyzed Korea’s case and cited the advanced IT, masks and quick initial response of the government as the key. “Panels are pleased vicariously as they watch shows continued in Korea. I cited the team spirit of staff members which made them unite together in front of a crisis as Korea’s secret,” Choi said.