We want to start by saying: we will get through this pandemic together. During these unprecedented times, your health and welfare – both physical and mental – is our main priority.
We applaud our AGMA signatory companies that have made the right decision to take care of their artists during this global crisis. By continuing payments, health coverage, and other benefits, these companies are being responsible employers. AGMA vows to work with these companies to get through this difficult period. We are in this together and understand the significant challenges that Opera, Ballet, and Choral groups will face throughout the coming months.
AGMA’s Executive Council has been receiving and granting emergency waiver requests to allow for capture/livestreaming and re-scheduling of performances when appropriate. This will mitigate some of the negative effects of the cancellations.
Notwithstanding these efforts, our members will confront an unprecedented loss of work and earnings in the weeks and months ahead. In response, AGMA has called upon federal, state, and local representatives to provide emergency relief. We have joined with our sister entertainment unions in calling for the type of relief that will benefit artists, including those who work on a freelance basis.
We have joined with the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) of the AFL-CIO to focus on relief from the federal government. The DPE has since seen its letter endorsed by a number of key members of congress, under the leadership of California Representative Adam Schiff. In New York, as part of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG), we have joined the legislative relief efforts at the state and local levels. We have added our name to this very recent DPE AEMI press release and statement co-signed by our fellow arts, entertainment, and media unions.
We have called upon our full membership in a call to action to contact their representatives with real life stories about how this epidemic has affected them. On Monday, AGMA will launch another letter writing campaign through ACTION NETWORK. This will make sending a letter to your elected officials take all of five minutes. Hopefully, these efforts will result in the direct emergency aid that is so desperately needed.
AGMA leadership and staff are working tirelessly, around the clock, to assist and support our members. We have been engaging in non-stop discussions and bargaining with management throughout the country to extend pay, benefits, and coverage as much as possible. The AGMA Relief Fund has temporarily doubled the cap on emergency financial grants for both hardship and health needs. To make the process efficient for members, the application, for the first time, has been moved completely online. Please encourage your network of friends, family, and foundations to donate to the AGMA Relief Fund (ways to donate can be found at agmarelief.org).
Earlier this week, Union trustees of the AGMA retirement funds moved to allow individual emergency loans from members’ accounts (a final decision should be made soon). We will continue to update our website with member resources. AGMA is committed to do everything within our power to help our membership. Together, AGMA will endure.
Stay healthy, stay safe.
National Executive Director