AGMA was saddened to hear of the cancelations of the remainder of Lyric’s 2020-21 season. The pandemic has made it difficult for all of us in the Performing Arts industry and our Artists are eager to return to their favorite stage in the world.
Lyric Opera said that its goal is to collaborate with its unions on “good faith proposals that included guaranteed wages and medical benefits during the dark period to help reduce the hardship during this difficult time.” That is AGMA's goal as well. AGMA wants to work with Lyric Opera to find a solution to all of the problems posed by COVID-19.
In fact, we were doing just that: negotiating with Lyric Opera to find a way to provide income to our Artists who have been out of work since March, and to keep the health insurance that is guaranteed under our contract. However, when we were closing in on an agreement, Lyric Opera pulled their offer off the table, and now refuses to discuss it further.
Not only that, but on Wednesday, Lyric Opera took the extra step of informing its Artists that it will be terminating their health care benefits at the end of December. Terminating healthcare during a pandemic is not collaboration, it is heartless. AGMA believes that our contract guarantees healthcare, and we are invoking our contractual arbitration procedure to enforce that guarantee.
There is no magic wand that will make this pandemic, and all of its fallout, go away. The issues it presents are serious and complicated. Lyric Opera calls its company the “Lyric Opera Family” and says they want us to work with them to find a solution. But we need Lyric Opera to work with us as well. That’s how a family works. Only then will we find a way to keep Lyric Opera as one of the preeminent opera houses in the world.
The core of Lyric's family is its Artists. And Lyric Opera has turned their back on those Artists this week.