The Kennedy Center and NSO reach new agreement in the face of COVID-19

A plan designed to ensure the Kennedy Center can re-open its doors and re-employ its staff

After several days of collaborative discussions, Kennedy Center leadership and the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) have reached a new agreement, a significant step in stabilizing the institution as it faces financial challenges resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSO rehearses at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The NSO rehearses at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The NSO musicians have agreed to a restructure of their current contract, resulting in payroll savings of nearly 35% (over $2.5 million) through early September, as well as further savings realized through a wage freeze in the 2020-2021 season and delayed wage increases for the duration of the contract (which will now extend through September 2024). Combined, these financial sacrifices total approximately $4 million, and represent a substantial long-term investment in the Kennedy Center’s future. NSO musicians and NSO management have also agreed to form a joint working group to discuss alternative ways to share new and archived NSO content during the current pandemic closure.

This recent agreement with the NSO musicians, along with previously announced administrative staff furloughs and pay reductions through May 10, plus a critical injection of $25 million from the CARES Act funding, are key measures in a multi-pronged plan designed to ensure the Kennedy Center will be able to re-open its doors and stages, re-employ its artistic and administrative staff, and secure the Center long into the future. The Kennedy Center has committed to covering full healthcare benefits for all its furloughed employees during this time. The Kennedy Center closed its doors on March 13, and will remain closed until at least May 10 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented time for all of us here in D.C. and around the world,” stated Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “The severe economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have unfolded at an incredibly rapid pace, requiring all of us to work together and demand the highest levels of strategic and creative thinking to solve our problems in the long-term. We are grateful that the musicians of the NSO will partner with us. Together, we have found a way forward.”

The Kennedy Center has a mission to fulfill now more than ever. But in light of limited operations, the mission is not sustainable without your support. If you have tickets for a cancelled performance, please donate them back to the Center. If you are able to make an online donation, please do. Your gift will be used for programs to create digital educational content and provide virtual performance platforms and support for artists.

Tax-deductible donations can be made on the Kennedy Center website.


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