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COVID-19: New York Met Opera to Remain Closed

The New York Metropolitan Opera, a leading arts and culture opera in the United States would remain closed due to the coronavirus. a statement made available to international media noted the ‘painful’ cancellation of its entire 2020-2021 season. The COVID-19 Pandemic has shut the gates of the cultural space in its 137-year history.

This means that landmark cultural shows including the Broadway theatre would remain inactive, and the cultural industry would suffer major economic setbacks. The 3,800-seat opera house normally stages more than 200 performances every season and welcomes about 800,000 visitors. Its decision to cancel the entire season is on the advice of health authorities, who noted that it would be of great risk to resume rehearsals and productions until ‘a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement.’

The organization made it known that ‘Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available.’

The Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, told the media that with the cancelation of this season together with the final eight weeks of the previous one, the highly esteemed house anticipates a loss of about $154 million in revenues, even as expenses have been reduced.

Gelb in an interview, called this “the most challenging time” in the company’s 137-year history. He unveiled that he was working towards meeting with the unions representing many Met employees to help them weather the storm.

It was garnered that, about 1,000 full-time confederated employees have been without pay since April when the Pandemic broke out. However, the opera house has continued to provide health care services. Gelb sees a possibility of reviewing the Met’s payroll if musicians agree to meagre multi-year contracts.

He said, ‘I feel optimistic, if we’re able to convince our workforce to collectively take on the responsibility of the recovery of the Met.’

He proceeded by saying, ‘I think some people think of the Met as some kind of historic and invulnerable institution. Clearly, there is no immunity from financial failure for any institution.’

One of the top unions representing Met employees are The American Guild of Musical Arts, they have criticized Met’s ‘unilateral’ decision to cancel the season, saying in an email to members that inceptive contract negotiations ‘have not been fruitful.’

‘Unlike other companies that have worked with AGMA to identify short-term cost-saving measures, the Met seems uniquely determined to leverage this moment to permanently gut our contract, a spokesperson for the guild said.

‘The Met cannot solve its difficult problems by turning its back on the artists who have built it over generations.’

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For many years the Met has operated on financially unstable grounds, with a spate of the unstable audience, that it has struggled to bring younger people to the theatre, it has also made necessary but pricey renovations to its facilities.

According to Gelb, he disclosed that, a multi-year capital project to repair the crumbling Italian travertine on its exterior for example, so far has cost at least $15 million.

He further said that the weeks of canceled performances and furlough of employees have saved the Met tens of millions of dollars in the last fiscal year, despite the fact that operating costs, pension liabilities, warehouse costs for costumes and sets, and salaries for working administrative staff remain.

Adenike Omosanya

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