Kennedy Center Gets $25 Million And Fires Musicians

Kennedy Center Gets $25 Million And Fires Musicians

Kennedy Center Gets $25 Million And Fires Musicians

The Kennedy Center decided this was the right time to step on a massive rake. After Nancy Pelosi held the CARES Act bill up for three days in a hideous attempt to get her pork into it, it finally passed. And then the Kennedy enter pulled a boneheaded move.

“The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts informed members of the National Symphony Orchestra that they would no longer be paid just hours after President Trump signed a $25 million taxpayer bailout for the cultural center, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

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 optics on this are …BAD. Very very bad. First of all, the Center just completed a massive renovation that was at least $100 million over budget. Secondly, if you read The Washington Post, people at the Kennedy Center are sacrificing! In the midst of a $20 million to $50 million deficit, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter is taking a 50% pay cut.

“It’s a leadership issue. This is what a leader does,” Rutter, who earns about $1.2 million annually, said in an interview Thursday. Kennedy Center Board Chairman David Rubenstein advised her not to, but she did it anyway.

“I need to be the first person,” Rutter said, alluding to the possible sacrifices that lie ahead. “My hope is that these circumstances don’t last forever, but I’m going to be a realist.”

Yes, it is a leadership issue. However, the leadership looks like crap when the immediate next move is to announce that none of the stimulus funds were going to go to the employees. That was the intent of what this stimulus was to do. Assist small businesses keep their payroll going and keep their employees head above water over these next few weeks.

There were quite a number of folks, myself included who were skeptical of why the Kennedy Center needed $25 million right now. One has to wonder where the $25 million will be spent right now. One also has to wonder how effective their planned giving program is, if there is that much of a shortfall after a significant expansion.

Jake Tapper tweeted about the issue. But has he asked Nancy Pelosi about it? Not that I could find.

Meanwhile, this story came out regarding a business in the Austin, Texas area. 

“Texas company looking to dock stimulus money from paychecks, relieve their payroll”

What is supposedly going to happen is that, any employee who receives $1,200 from the CARES act, will have that money docked from their pay. Here’s the thing with small businesses and their payroll. As I specifically heard from our bank and two small businesses we know, applications can be made that can grant those businesses enough payroll funds through this Act to keep their employees paid for two months.

The businesses referenced in the article are supposedly nationally known companies. Guess what? There is funding to assist with all of this in the CARES Act as well.

Here’s the thing with this. Our entire country is hurting. People are scared, and the quarantines are adding to the stress and anxiety many have been feeling. The media has been gleefully fear-mongering, and we are all in a day-to-day mode with this.

Yet here we have a prominent internationally known performing arts center being given $25 million and then laying off their employees.

As I stated above, the optics are horrendous. Following in Mike Bloomberg’s footsteps is bad PR no matter which way you slice it. I would not be surprised if the Center lost a few prominent donors over this.

Feature Photo Credit: klimkin via Pixabay, cropped and modified

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