A measure Gov. Phil Murphy signed Jan. 21 permits local, nonprofit theaters apply for liquor licenses.
The measure applies to groups with venues seating at least 50 patrons, down from 1,000 seats.
Proponents of the measure argue it would give local theaters a leg up in competing against larger establishments, and create revenue for downtown businesses.
“This legislation is a great way to promote the arts throughout the state and support the nonprofit organizations that bring these concerts, musicals and plays to the people of New Jersey,” one sponsor, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, D-33rd District, said in a November statement.
John McEwen, who heads the New Jersey Theater Alliance, said the measure would be a boon for theaters that struggle to make ends meet at the box office.
“Ticket income only covers an average of one-third of a theater’s expenses, and the remainder of the annual operating expense is covered by increasingly-hard-to-obtain contributed income from foundations, individuals, corporations and state and federal funding,” McEwen told lawmakers at a Senate Law and Public Safety Committee hearing in December.
“Giving small theaters the opportunity to serve alcohol opens an untapped revenue stream to support plays and performances,” Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, R-21st District, said in a Tuesday statement. “This will increase foot traffic and ticket sales, and bolster non-profit theater’s bottom lines across the Garden State.”d