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Kennedy Center to furlough 60 percent of staff, details plans for spending stimulus funds

Kennedy Center to furlough 60 percent of staff, details plans for spending stimulus funds
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The Kennedy Center announced Tuesday that it will furlough 60 percent of its full-time administrative staff starting April 6 and “at least” through May 10.

The performing arts center and memorial for President John F. Kennedy received $25 million in funding in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate last week. 

The announcement broke down how that spending would be used.

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It said nearly $20 million would be used for employee salaries and benefits, and that the rest would be used for utilities and deep cleaning costs. In addition to the stimulus funding, the center used a $10 million line of credit. 

“This economic relief will save jobs and ensure jobs for our furloughed staff to come back to once the pandemic subsides and we are able to reopen for business,” the announcement read.

The Kennedy Center also employs 725 hourly and part-time employees. They are already not working or getting paid because of the coronavirus.

The center, which is home to the national orchestra, said ticket revenues and donations account for 80 percent of its budget. The coronavirus pandemic has forced it to close its doors and cancel shows, leading to a substantial gap in funding.

“With no end in sight to the current crisis, we feel it is prudent to assume that our business may not resume for several months,” the statement said. 

Union leadership from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has filed a grievance with the Kennedy Center, calling the furlough illegal.

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“This decision, from an organization with an endowment of nearly $100 million, is not only outrageous – coming after the musicians had expressed their willingness to discuss ways to accommodate the Kennedy Center during this challenging time – it is also blatantly illegal under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. That agreement specifically requires that the Center provide six weeks’ notice before it can stop paying musicians for economic reasons,” Ed Malaga, president of the D.C. AFM said in a statement.

Funding for the Kennedy Center was a controversial sticking point during the Senate negotiations, with Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) calling the move “spending porn on pet projects that was slipped into” the third stimulus bill.

“There's an enormous amount of spending porn on pet projects that was put into this bill by some powerful members of Congress,” Kennedy told Fox News host Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoHillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Ratcliffe, Schiff battle over Biden emails, politicized intelligence Pompeo denies push for Clinton emails violates Hatch Act MORE on Sunday. “They think the American people, I guess, are morons and won't notice, but they did.”