Kennedy Center Lays Off Musicians After Receiving $25 Million Stimulus

By David Salazar

The ink wasn’t even dry on the stimulus package, which guaranteed the Kennedy Center $25 million, and the arts organization was already laying off members of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Per a report from the Washington Post, the orchestra members, who are worth $1.6 million per month on the payroll, will get one additional paycheck at the end of this week and then will be left to their own devices through the summer. Moreover, their health-care benefits would stop at the end of May if the center remained closed through that time and per Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter, they would only start to get paid once the center reopened.

In the report, Ed Malaga, President of Local 161-70 of the American Federation of Musicians, noted that this amount to illegal action, noting that the Center, per the collective bargaining agreement, must provide six weeks’ notice before it can stop paying musicians for any economic issues.

Per the report, the objective of the $25 million stimulus is to ensure that the center can provide cash flow for essential personnel.  In order to stave off more cuts and what is predicted to be, in the best case scenario, a $20 million loss of income over the two month shutdown, Rutter has suspended her $1.2 million salary with other cuts coming.