AGMA Soloists Call on AGMA to Endorse Joe Biden & Kamala Harris

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: JoeBiden Official Website)

The AGMA Soloist Coalition has officially asked The Board of Governors of American Guild of Musical Artists to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States and Kamala Harris for Vice President of the United States.

By means of a petition, the Soloist Coalition, which has already endorsed Biden and Harris, is asking AGMA to follow suit. In a statement, the Soloist Coalition noted that the current administration, led by President Donald Trump, has repeatedly and publicly announced his intent to dismantle the National Endowment of the Arts and provided no support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The opera industry and its workers are in crisis. We have looked to each other for solidarity and solace in these agonizing times – indeed, restoring our sense of community is a core value of the Soloist Coalition. But as much as working together to change our industry is a vital component of our recovery, we cannot hope to survive without help from our government,” said the AGMA Soloist Coalition. “The current administration has repeatedly tried to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts. While our peers in Europe are back to work thanks in part to decisive leadership, the American pandemic is still out of control. The need for change could not be more evident.

Back in mid-March, as the pandemic was starting to shut down the country, Trump unveiled a $4.75 trillion budget, the largest in federal history, of which only $29 million was allocated to the NEA and another $38 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Per the proposal, this was “sufficient funding for orderly termination of all operations over two years.”

For the 2021 Fiscal Year budget, Trump proposed an allocation of $30 million for the NEA and $33 million for the NEH, with a continued proposition to close out the organizations.

In the plan, the Administration outlined that the NEA and NEH activities were not essential Federal responsibilities and has referenced them as “wasteful and unnecessary spending.”

“We now call upon AGMA to join with our sister unions and the AFL-CIO in endorsing Biden and Harris. As Actors’ Equity Association realized in 2016, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society earlier this year, political neutrality is impossible in our current climate,” added the statement by the AGMA Soloist Coalition.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, under President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provided $50 million in funding to the NEA, with allocation peaking at $167.5 million for fiscal year (FY) 2010. However, in years that followed, there were declines in support that would level out in Obama’s latter years as President. In FY 2016 budget proposed an increase of $2 million in funding for the NEA.