As War Begins, Broadway Braces for Possible Hit on Business

News   As War Begins, Broadway Braces for Possible Hit on Business You can't blame Broadway producers for feeling a keen case of exhaustion. The year 2003, not even three months old, has been a challenge. And now, having survived the biggest blizzard in seven years and the biggest strike action in decades, The Street's showmen are facing another potential assault on box office business: the war with Iraq.

A spokesperson for the League of American Theatres and Producers said the organization was working with the New York City Police Department to ensure the security of Broadway productions and audiences. She declined to go into specifics. The theatre owners, too, are increasing security measures. Like Washington, DC, New York City is considered a target for terrorists in this time of increased tensions. The New York Times reported that the police are setting up roving checkpoints where cars and trucks approaching the Midtown area are randomly inspected. The daily also related accounts of a noticeable slowdown in Times Square tourist traffic during Tuesday afternoon, as President George W. Bush's deadline approached for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to leave his country or face armed conflict. The nation's airlines have begun petitioning the government for financial assistance, anticipating a crippling dip in ridership over the duration of the war. Such a decline in air travel could deeply affect the theatre community. Airplanes bring tourists to New York City and tourists constitute a large section of any Broadway audience.

Producers contacted for this article were hesitant to speculate on the impact the war will have on Broadway. But they are most likely concerned about a coming battle of the box office. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, left the theatre industry reeling. One of the largest publicity campaigns in Broadway history was undertaken to get skittish audiences back in the theatres and lure tourists back in town. The industry rebounded more quickly than many expected, though the ticketbuying habits of theatregoers have changed, with people now tending to plan ahead less, save more and spend additional time at home.

For the time being, however, no one anticipates the coming conflict will result in any lost performances. All Broadway show are currently set to run on schedule.