NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg will receive a 2013 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
Bloomberg is being recognized for his support of the Broadway community and his administration's sustained push behind tourism.
“New York City wouldn’t be New York City without Broadway,” said Bloomberg. “The local theatre community not only employs thousands of people on stage and behind the curtain, but it also helps fill restaurants and hotel rooms. Our administration has worked diligently to make New York City a safe and attractive place to visit, and it is with great pride that I accept this Tony Honor."
Some initiatives during the mayor's tenure at City Hall have been controversial, such as the pedestrian and bike-lane rezoning of much of the Times Square area, which has caused traffic congestion in the heart of the theater district. But Bloomberg's support of tourism has been a big factor in the growth of Broadway business. According to studies, 65 percent of theatergoers come from outside New York's tri-state area.
Industry observers are concerned, however, that Broadway is rapidly pricing itself out of the average tourist's pocket. Regular ticket prices to many shows now top $150, and increasingly prevalent premium-priced orchestra seats to hit shows are going for $350 or more.
Figures compiled by trade organization the Broadway League for the 2012-13 season that just wrapped showed grosses to be static with the previous year at $1.14 billion after years of steady growth. More alarmingly, admissions fell by 6.2 percent to total 11.6 million.
That drop was partly attributed to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, a weak fall season and the diminished number of playing weeks due to the large volume of shows that closed early and left theaters without a tenant. But escalating ticket prices can also be seen as a major factor. Both the Broadway League and the New York City administration will need to address that matter if theater is not to be considered an attraction for elite incomes only.
Bloomberg is the second New York mayor to receive a Tony nod, following John Lindsay, who was recognized in 1973 for his commitment to building new theaters.
In addition to accepting the special honor, Bloomberg will appear as a presenter at the 67th annual Tony Awards Sunday night. Hosted for the fourth time by Neil Patrick Harris, the ceremony will air live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall, starting at 8 p.m. ET, with a West Coast time delay.
Other presenters scheduled to appear include Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Zachary Quinto. The awards show will include live performances of musical numbers from 14 different productions either nominated or currently running on Broadway.