Kennedy Center boss tells staff $25M coronavirus handout won’t save them

WASHINGTON — Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts executives lobbied lawmakers for a $25 million handout in the massive coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump last week but were planning to lay-off staff regardless, leaked audio of an internal conference call reveals.

In the March 26 call, KCPA President Deborah Rutter told more than 200 employees at the Washington, D.C. cultural institution to brace for lay-offs, pay cuts and furloughs despite receiving a large carve-out in the $2 trillion emergency economic bailout for Americans and businesses financially devastated by the outbreak, which made headlines last week.

Rutter revealed how the organization deployed a lobbyist to push Capitol Hill lawmakers to include them but said it would not help with staff retention because they were already running out of cash, according to the audio first reported by One America News’ Jack Posobiec.

“We are really grateful for this $25 million, but I will tell you that it does not keep us whole,” Rutter said, acknowledging the bailout had made them “the target for a lot of unhappy people who believe we are taking the money away from sick people.”

Staff at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts were informed that many of them would be losing their jobs because the financial situation at the arts organization was so dire.

“This $25 million does not allow us to maintain our current structure,” Rutter said on the call. “If we had not received any cash and everything had stayed exactly as it is today, no changes, we would draw fully on the line of credit, we would be out of cash on May 15.”

In an email Tuesday, the organization confirmed 725 part-time staff had been impacted and another 60 percent of the center’s full-time administrative staff would also be furloughed until at least May 10.

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