The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, despite being given $25 million in aid by the most recent coronavirus stimulus package, will no longer pay the members of the National Symphony Orchestra, according to ABC News.
The president of the Kennedy Center, Deborah Rutter, told the members of the Orchestra that their last paycheck would be handed out this week, and they would not receive any more pay until the center reopens. She also told them that they will lose their healthcare benefits at the end of May.
Rutter attempted to justify her reasoning by calling it “an unsustainable strategy to pay musicians to stay at home during this forced and still undefined quarantine period.” She emphasized that the layoffs affected everyone, adding that “the other unions within the Center have also experienced this furlough and are not or will not be receiving compensation.” She made no mention whatsoever of the $25 million that the Kennedy Center explicitly received in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.
In response, Ed Malaga, the president of the local American Federation of Musicians chapter, called Rutter’s decision “outrageous” due to the Center’s abundance of cash “with an endowment of nearly $100 million.” Malaga added that “it is also blatantly illegal under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement,” which “requires that the Center provide six weeks’ notice before it can stop paying musicians for economic reasons.”