National Symphony Orchestra musicians will receive salary deductions, but will not be revoked, based on a new agreement agreed between their union and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where they perform.
The Kennedy Center has planned to play musicians for an indefinite period of time to overcome the financial shortcomings of the pandemic coronavirus, which has closed down the performing arts center. That announcement caused a political uproar, in large part because the center has received $ 25 million in emergency funding as part of the recently enacted stimulus package.
But in the agreement announced Tuesday with D.C. The Federation of Musicians, the orchestra – which includes 96 musicians and two orchestral librarians – will see a pay cut of 35 percent of total payroll until the beginning of September. The union said that the leave violated their collective bargaining agreement.
In the days after the announcement of the leave, several Republican lawmakers have gone so far to suppress the law to withdraw $ 25 million, arguing that the center did not need to leave workers after such a bailout.
The Kennedy Center, which was first established as a National Cultural Center in a law passed by Congress in 1958, confirmed that, even with federal funds, it could run out of cash immediately after July. Hundreds of employees – including those working in concessions, parking and retail – have taken time off to save money while the center is dark.
The musicians union said in a statement on Tuesday that it was helping to improve Tension at the center, has agreed to make some economic concessions in collective bargaining agreements. That includes freezing wages in the 2020-21 season and delaying wage increases for the remainder of their contracts, the Kennedy Center said.
In total, the center said that cutting wages and economic concessions would save $ 4 million.
Some staff in the National Symphony Orchestra who are not united will remain on leave. A statement from the orchestra said that musicians had promised at least $ 50,000 of their own money to help the staff. The musicians urged the center to bring back the staff to assist the orchestra in finding ways to bring music to the public now.
“We need their talents to help start new music projects to be presented to our customers and the greater world,” the orchestra statement said.
The financial struggle at the Kennedy Center reflects what is happening cultural institutions of all sizes throughout the country, because all living art programming has been canceled or postponed because of a pandemic. Unions have been mobilized to ensure that actors, dancers, musicians and other arts workers will not be left entirely without wages or medical benefits during the national crisis.
In the face of criticism from conservative lawmakers, the Kennedy Center has defended its need for federal funding, promising that a majority of the money – $ 22 million from $ 25 million – has been set for employee compensation, benefits and contracts and artist fees. The center said it was maintaining full health care benefits for its employees who were on leave.
The center is in discussions with musicians from the Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra about how they will be compensated during the crisis.
Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, said in a statement that he was grateful that the National Symphony Orchestra and center “had found a way forward.”
Ms. Rutter words in a tweet last month that he would release his own salary during the crisis.
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