As of the date of this writing, March 21, the entertainment industry throughout the world, with few exceptions, has been shut down. Today, emergency governmental stay-at-home orders have been issued in New York, Connecticut, Illinois, and California, affecting 75 million Americans. A national emergency declaration issued on March 13 placed severe restrictions on public and private gatherings, effectively eliminating audiences; canceling concerts and shows for every symphonic, opera, and ballet orchestra in the US and Canada; shutting down festival performances; and closing live venues of every size. Thousands of gigs that otherwise would have been performed were wiped out. TV networks ended all live television production except news. All other media production has been postponed.
Broadway, Las Vegas casinos, and every other showroom, right down to neighborhood restaurants and bars, are dark. Touring theatrical productions have either closed or shut down pending an all-clear signal for audience gatherings. The threat to the entertainment industry across North America and worldwide, to the business it creates and musicians it employs, could stretch beyond these immediate days and have disastrous consequences for months or years to come. As the disease began its spread here, your union took immediate action to safeguard our staff, provide advice and counsel to our locals and our members, while negotiating with signatory employers to preserve and protect employment, extend health benefits, and return touring musicians safely to their homes.
Federation offices—in New York, DC, Toronto, and Los Angeles—are located in the current epicenters of COVID-19 infections. We got ahead of the situation on March 12, implementing work-from-home plans for most staff, and staggering hours for essential staff in all Federation offices, which were eventually shuttered due to additional emergency orders.
Federation staff has risen to the occasion, working around the clock to design and implement new streaming provisions for use to keep live performances alive, to preserve employment. Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard and I have been in direct contact with Congress to push for immediate relief for members who have borne the brunt of these shutdowns. We will not rest until we achieve this goal.
I’m dedicating the balance of my column space this month to accommodate special coverage of the Federation’s response to the crisis. As the outbreak continues, I will communicate frequently via Federation-wide email blasts. Please stay safe. My prayers are with each of you.
To view the article on this month's special coverage on COVID-19, click here.Read More