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LA Comedy Theaters Use Paycheck Protection Bailout To Get Low-Cost Loans

Onstage at a classic New York Del Close Marathon. (Francine Daveta, courtesy UCB)
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The federal government's Paycheck Protection Program's stated intention was to help small businesses keep people on staff through loans that would be forgiven if those companies used at least 60% of the money on payroll. But many businesses have used the opportunity to take government money as low-cost loans instead, including L.A. comedy theaters like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which received between $350,000 and $1 million for its L.A. theater/training center and a similar amount for its New York City location.

The NYC theater closed shortly after UCB was approved for that loan, while L.A.'s theater didn't hire back its staff. The list of who received PPP loans was released last week, and it included comedy outlets like UCB, the Groundlings, the Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, and Flappers in Burbank.

The news didn't go over well online, with numerous people going after UCB on social media, including former performers, staff, and more. This follows ongoing financial issues at UCB, as well as complaints of systemic racism and inequality within the organization that prompted UCB to announce the formation of a diverse board taking over management of the theater's operations, as well as the theater looking to become a nonprofit.


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