As we enter the fourth week of a government shutdown, cultural institutions in Philadelphia are offering free tickets to furloughed government workers and those working without pay.
At the Museum of the American Revolution, those federal employees can learn about the origins of the very government that has sent them home or put them to work without a check. Or they can take a break from the ever-spinning political news cycle and go to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University to see giant hissing cockroaches.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, the Please Touch Museum, the Independence Seaport Museum, and Eastern State Penitentiary also are among the institutions offering freebies to federal workers during the shutdown.
The Walnut Street Theater is offering tickets to Ken Ludwig’s “A Comedy of Tenors,” a bedroom farce that opens Tuesday.
Government workers can reserve a free ticket now, to be used for any available seat for the first two weeks of the run (until January 27).
Walnut Street Theatre President Bernard Havard said he hopes the madcap comedy will give audiences some relief from the Washington stalemate for a little while. The ticket giveaway also benefits the theater.
“Mutual self-interest,” he said. “We like to get full houses here, spread the word of mouth, and also share this wonderful show with people who are not getting a paycheck.”
Beyond cultural institutions, some banks, credit card companies, and utilities are waiving late and overdraft fees for government employees during the shutdown. It all helps, but furloughed employees are anxious to get paid.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House voted Friday to ensure that all federal employees will be paid retroactively after the partial government shutdown ends.
The bill, approved Thursday by the Senate, requires that all employees, including those who have been furloughed, be paid as soon as possible once the government reopens.
It now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign the bill, but it’s not clear when the president and Congress can agree on reopening the government.
More than 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, missed their first paycheck Friday under the stoppage, which began Dec. 22.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to specify that free tickets to the Walnut Street Theater can be used for any available seat until January 27.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.