With alarm and concern, we are all watching as the United States government shutdown is severely affecting the lives of employees across the country who missed their first paycheck just days ago. There are more than 23,000 federal workers in Maryland alone who are impacted. Once again, it is the critical services of the nonprofit sector that are responding to immediate needs by opening food kitchens, helping to navigate finances, and bringing solace. In addition to government employees, there is a ripple affect among contractors, service providers, restaurants, and more. It is unlikely they will receive any compensation for their losses.
How is the shutdown affecting the cultural sector specifically? The National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for Humanities ceased operations immediately. The Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo have also been forced to close. Here is a very informative blog post from Donna Walker-Kuhne who draws heavily on information from the Performing Arts Alliance to help explain the impact on artists and organizations, who also have employees and bills to pay. She writes:
“The Performing Arts Alliance reminds us on its website that “elected public officials owe their jobs to voting citizens…and whether policymakers are for or against an important issue, citizens have the ability to speak their mind and show where they stand.” They offer an Arts Advocacy Toolkit to help you get started. They also encourage arts organizations to lobby, which they note is “just another term for freedom of speech.”
Imagine how the state of affairs at agencies that affect us are magnified at Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, the IRS and many, many more. Make your voice heard with your elected officials.
Locally, organizations are responding by offering discounts and free tickets at restaurants, museums, and performances in solidarity with the federal workforce.
B&O Railroad Museum
The museum is offering furloughed federal employees one complimentary admission with a valid employee ID.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum
Free admission will be available to groups of four that present a valid government I.D. in person at the time of admission. This offer is good Wednesday-Sunday throughout the shutdown.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is offering free tickets to federal government employees for their "Turangalila-symphonie" concerts this weekend. You must present a valid government ID at the Ticket Office before each performance and only two tickets are available per ID.
Baltimore Center Stage
Two free tickets to see the preview performance for the Tony award-winning play Fun Home. Federal employees can walk-up to the box office to claim two tickets by showing their valid government ID, but all tickets are on a first-come first-serve basis.
Offering federal workers 20 percent off their food bill until the shutdown ends.
Lest we forget, amidst this instability and insecurity the country is preparing to celebrate the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., a national hero. You can join GBCA and Kibibi Ajanku this week for the first in a three-part Third Friday Conversations series on topics related to race and equity. Come out this Friday at 6PM, to engage with Kibibi in a discussion: “MLK: Freedom Fighter.”
All my best,