After receiving a controversial $25 million bailout (which would pay for a lot of respirators), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts notified nearly 100 musicians with the National Symphony Orchestra that they won’t receive paychecks after April 3rd, according to the orchestra’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
“The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter,” reads the email. “Ms. Rutter abruptly informed us today that the last paycheck for all musicians and librarians will be April 3 and that we will not be paid again until the Center reopens.”
The email went out to members on Friday evening, shortly after President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, a stimulus package intended to provide relief to people left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. Congress included $25 million in taxpayer funding for the Kennedy Center, a provision that raised eyebrows from both Democrats and Republicans, but ultimately won support from President Trump. The bailout was designed to “cover operating expenses required to ensure the continuity of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and its affiliates, including for employee compensation and benefits, grants, contracts, payments for rent or utilities, fees for artists or performers,” according to the law’s text. The arts organization decided that the relief did not extend to members of the National Symphony Orchestra, its house orchestra. –Washington Free Beacon
“Everyone should proceed as if their last paycheck will be April 3,” the email continues. “We understand this will come [as a] shock to all of you, as it did to us.”
One veteran member of the orchestra (who we suspect forwarded the email to the Beacon) told the outlet that the decision has “blindsided” musicians.
“It’s very disappointing [that] they’re going to get that money and then drop us afterward,” the musician said. “The Kennedy Center blindsided us.”
The cente, which received $41 million from taxpayers in 2019, just completed a $250 million renovation – however it faced insurmountable deficits after shuttering its doors on March 12 due to COVID-19.