Kennedy Center Lays Off Staff, Will Stop Paying Musicians Despite Receiving $25 Million in Stimulus Bill
One veteran member said that it looks “like the Kennedy Center knew it was going to lay everyone off even before they lobbied for funds in the bailout.”
Can someone explain to me why Congress gave the Kennedy Center $25 million in the Wuhan coronavirus bill?
I ask because the Kennedy Center first told musicians the money would not go towards their paychecks. Now the center laid off 20 staffers who helped the National Symphony Orchestra.
The Washington Free Beacon received an email three days ago which showed that the Kennedy Center will not pay musicians after April 3rd:
Nearly 100 musicians will no longer receive paychecks after April 3, according to an email from the orchestra’s Covid-19 Advisory Committee.
“The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter,” the email says. “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 Kennedy Center told employees on an all-staff conference call today that 20 administrative staffers will lose their jobs.
Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter defended these actions (emphasis mine):
The Kennedy Center, which did not return multiple requests for comment prior to publication, defended the recent layoffs and outlined a projected breakdown of its bailout money on Tuesday afternoon. Rutter said in an email to supporters obtained by the Free Beacon that the center plans to spend $12.75 million on employee compensation and another $7.5 million on health benefits. Despite having an endowment of nearly $100 million, the arts organization claims it will run out of funds by July even if it reopens on schedule in May.
“It is imperative that we scale back the entire institution’s personnel costs during this time of closure and dearth of ticket income,” Rutter said. “If no changes are made to our spending patterns, even if we are able to open in mid-May, with the recent $25 million federal stimulus funding, the Kennedy Center would run out of cash as early as July.”
Rutter had previously defended the cuts, saying in a Saturday statement that the decision to stop paying musicians “may seem drastic,” but that it was “the only way through this.” She warned then that future layoffs could come.
One veteran member told the publication that it looks “like the Kennedy Center knew it was going to lay everyone off even before they lobbied for funds in the bailout.” The member also does not know how those who work at the Kennedy Center “can trust our leadership after this.”
Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) introduced a bill to take back the $25 million from the Kennedy Center. He has 15 co-sponsors:
In a phone call with the Daily Caller, Steil said “So we were negotiating this bill. Nancy Pelosi holds up getting relief to Americans to try to get this and other things in the bill. And so the day that the House passed this bill, I drove from Janesville, Wisconsin, to Washington, D.C. to be there.”
“I spoke on the bill, spoke about how I thought the funding for the Kennedy Center was inappropriate. And then before I left Washington, D.C. to drive back home, the day we passed the bill, I dropped this bill into the hopper and introduced it to start day one. The moment after we passed a bill to begin the work of improving it and getting out of the bill, inappropriate funding. A handful of days later, after this passes and you find out that the Kennedy Center is laying people off. That’s almost the icing on the cake,” Steil continued.
“Nancy Pelosi literally held the bill up for days to get her pet projects… Interesting she’d use the choice of words, ‘fiddlers,’ because it was the fiddlers, the violin players, all the musicians at the Kennedy Center that got laid off,” Scalise said Monday night on Fox News.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) asked Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought “to freeze the money by submitting a recession request to Congress under section 1012 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.”
Scott included the funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the “Education Stabilization Fund.”
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