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Banking Meets Broadway

This article has been revised and corrected from the original version.

City National Bank has returned as the official sponsor of the Tony Awards. 

“We sponsor the show, and we host the after-party for them,” said Linda Duncombe, City National’s executive vice president and chief marketing, product and digital officer. “This year, they’re streaming it on Paramount+.”

It’s a good time to be in business with the Great White Way as audiences flock to Broadway shows.

“At Broadway, they’re back in record numbers,” Duncombe said. “They’re back to 2019 numbers. This year, the Tonys are back at Radio City (Music Hall). Everyone is excited.”

The 75 Tony Awards took place June 12 and were broadcast on CBS in addition to Paramount +.

Duncombe believes City National’s cozy relationship with the entertainment business goes back to the late 1960s with the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. City National was involved in raising the ransom to pay the kidnappers.

“We worked with the FBI,” Duncombe said. “The FBI caught the kidnappers. Frank Sinatra said if you want to do business with me and the Rat Pack, you have to bank with City National.”

Since then, City National’s Hollywood clientele steadily grew.

Beginning with the 2005 run of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” — which was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won in three categories, including Best Musical — City National began its involvement in full with Broadway.

“We’ve built this ecosystem around entertainment,” Duncombe said. “We bank 50 percent of all Broadway shows.”

Those productions include “Paradise Square,” “Company” and “The Lehman Trilogy.”

City National’s clients have also included myriad big productions, including “Burn This,” “The Ferryman,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Mamma Mia!,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

City National does everything from managing the cash that a show takes in at the box office to helping a musical or play raise its initial financing from investors.

City National also has myriad clients in the movie business.

“We’re definitely involved in film financing,” Duncombe said. “We’ve been involved for decades. We’re happy to see movies back in the cinema.”

During the pandemic, City National Bank played a critical role in keeping companies afloat by overseeing more than 20,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans for the entertainment business totaling $1.2 billion.

This was fortuitous for Broadway shows, which were forced by the Covid-19 pandemic to shut down for 18 months, a hiatus that largely ended in the fall.

“Many of our clients said that’s what kept the lights on,” Duncombe said, referring to the PPP program.

Broadway has enjoyed a steady comeback since Covid’s easing, though it has yet to reach pre-pandemic figures. According to the Broadway League, weekly grosses hovered around $40 million a week in 2019 and peaked at $56 million for the week closing December 2019. For the week ending June 5, weekly grosses closed at $30 million.

City National has longstanding partnerships with philanthropic organizations that support the theater and entertainment communities, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Actors Fund and Family Equality Council.

Duncombe said that 2020 became the bank’s biggest charitable year in history. “In 2021, we topped it and donated $11 million,” Duncombe said.

Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez graduated from Los Angeles Valley College, then transferred to University of California, and now serves as a Receptionist and Office Assistant to the Los Angeles Business Journal. Paola wears many hats in different departments and is trilingual in English, Spanish and French.
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