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Metropolitan Opera faces difficulties to reopen

The Metropolitan Opera has been a special place in New York’s cultural lands for 138 years. Not only as one of New York’s leading art institutions, it is also widely known as a global destination for music lovers.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had a pre-pandemic annual budget of just over $ 300 million, is planning for the 2021-22 season, but must first deal with the difficult financial situation. A key factor, according to the company, is the loss of $ 150 million in revenue from the pandemic. As a result, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is calling for salary cuts for 2,500 union employees. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, labor costs account for $ 200 million of the budget.

Members of the locked-out stagehand union at the Metropolitan Opera gathered at the Lincoln Center in May.


Photo:

Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has an audience You can return to the indoor venue with confidenceThis problem is exacerbated by the capacity of a theater with 3,800 seats, which is about twice the maximum space on Broadway.

In addition to the concerns of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a white, European-rooted form of art that speaks effectively to contemporary America, especially in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in police custody. There is a question from the cultural community about whether it can be done. And the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art faced financial difficulties before its closure in 2020, and its relationship with long-time conductor James Levine was cut off. He faced allegations of sexual abuse. Levine died in March.

Richard Mittental, a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and president and chief executive officer of the TCC Group, a New York City-based consultant, said, “The Metropolitan Museum of Art needs to rethink its vision and operating model. It has been said for years. To non-profit organizations. “This only increased the risk.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said it is tackling the problems it faces and is entering a season full of new works, including three contemporary works, including Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” There is a company premiere of the work. This is the company’s first ever released opera by a black composer. Blanchard’s work opens on September 27th, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art also plans to perform Verdi’s “Requiem” on September 11th in connection with the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Company negotiations with unions representing various employees can be the biggest hurdle to overcome. The Metropolitan Museum of Art wants to save 30% on labor costs from the highest-paying unions, but adds that the impact on take-home pay will be about 20%.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has signed an agreement awaiting ratification of the union with the United States Association of Music Artists. AGMA officials said the new contract will reduce the initial salary of many of the represented employees by 3.7%. Said.

Nonetheless, the International Alliance of Theatrical Labor Union Local One, the Stage Hand Union, and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, which represents orchestra members and other musicians, remain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art shut out the stagehand in December after a period of labor negotiations.

James J. Claffey Jr., President of IATSE Local One, questions the seriousness of the company’s financial position. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art screams for a loss of about $ 150 million in revenue, but conveniently silences the savings gained by not paying the costs associated with producing an opera.” He said.

Claffey disputed Met’s statement that the proposed salary cut would reduce take-home pay by 20%. He said the savings would be even higher.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said it would like to resume negotiations with the stagehand immediately.

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Adam Krauthamer, president of AFM Local 802, said Met’s musicians are the most trained and most experienced in the world and should not face the disastrous reductions he says.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said it aims to recover half of the proposed salary cuts with the union when ticket sales and donations return to pre-pandemic levels.

The company is also looking at what it can do to reassure the audience when many may be worried about returning to an indoor environment. The steps the company is taking are touchless doors. , Toilets, ticketing machines, etc.

The company said it is focusing on diversity beyond opera presentations by black composers and commissioned works by other colored artists. In January, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the first and greatest variety. Announced the appointment of Marcia Linsells, the sexual officer.

“In order to achieve equality among artists and craftsmen, and among our employees and all members of the board, we need to create artistic and administrative pathways for people of color. “Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said. At the time of meeting..

Write to Charles Passy cpassy@wsj.com

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Metropolitan Opera faces difficulties to reopen

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