Coronavirus pandemic hurts United States arts

This 11 March 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus Effect on Art World

The art world is taking a massive hit.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Coronavirus crisis “devastates” US museums, arts organizations, many of them for good

28 March 2020

The bipartisan corporate “rescue” package passed by the US Congress this week provides only $232.5 million for cultural organizations, one-sixteenth of the $4 billion for which the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and individual institutions had lobbied.

Boeing alone will receive more than four times what the museum group had requested—and was denied. The Metropolitan Museum in New York expects to lose $100 million should it remain closed through July and the American Museum of Natural History (also in New York) estimates it will lose $60 million by June. The AAM asserted in a March 19 press release that museums in the US collectively are losing at least $33 million a day due to closures related to COVID-19. Museums support some 726,000 jobs nationally, with 372,100 people directly employed by the institutions.

The aid package passed by the Senate and the House this week provides $75 million each for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to be distributed as the respective organizations see fit. It also allocates $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC—home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera—is slated to receive $25 million, while the Smithsonian Institution in Washington will get $7.5 million.

In its press statement, the AAM explained that the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the museum field was “devastating.” The organization noted that museums “of all sizes are experiencing closures, attendance free-fall, canceled events, and layoffs.”

This would escalate day by day, the AAM argued, “as closures and cancellations continue.” It further stated, “Most of these are cash-based businesses; their economic lifeblood is people visiting.” It pointed to declines in both international and domestic tourism, declines in local attendance and increases in social distancing. The AAM estimated that as a consequence of the current situation, “as many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance.”

Thousands of museum employees, freelance workers and others have already lost their jobs. ArtForum points out that since galleries, museums and arts organizations closed down earlier this month “with no idea when they can reopen, job losses were inevitable.” It continued: “Some museums, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, plan on paying hourly and part-time workers through the closure. Some institutions, including The Broad in LA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, will only pay workers until a fixed date, when they will reassess their options. Other museums have already begun letting people go.”

ArtForum goes on to explain that in anticipation of “large revenue losses, museums are also implementing pay cuts and furloughing workers.” It states, “Employees who cannot work remotely, including art handlers, installers, security guards, retail and front-desk workers, gallery attendants, and freelancers, are most vulnerable to losing their jobs.”

The Cleveland Museum of Art, anticipating five million dollars in lost revenue, will furlough all part-time staff and temporarily lay off a portion of its unionized staff, which includes security guards. The Hammer Museum, affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has laid off 150 part-time student employees.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) is laying off all of its part-time employees, a total of 97 workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. The layoffs, which the museum says are temporary due to the coronavirus crisis, include gallery attendants, exhibition installers, retail staff and education team members, among others.

Freelance workers employed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York are protesting the museum’s decision not to pay “on-call” (freelance) employees for work they committed to after March 29, according to Hyperallergic. On-call workers are “casual hour employees”, in the museum’s phrase, who work when called in for specific projects.

One freelance worker explained in a moving tweet addressed to museum officials that this was “a terrible time to exclude people who earn their living at your institution from having basics for their families.” The individual explained that she had committed to working on an exhibition for 22 days.

“I ask”, she went on, “that you consider how not being paid the work already planned will affect my husband and two children for basic things like access to food and housing… Freelancers deserve income continuation. As a mother, I am asking you to reconsider your decision.”

The decision by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to close its doors as of March 13, ART news reported, “came as a surprise to the organization’s part-time workers, many of whom did not receive notice until the decision was made public around 7:30 p.m. [the night before]. ‘There has been no clarity on payment,’ said one gallery attendant, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. ‘There have been vague promises about compensation for the next few weeks, but it seems like they are playing it pretty safe.’”

Because of the closure of New York City’s public schools, museum educators at the Whitney, who conduct student tours, have been informed they won’t be paid after March 31, despite having contracts that last until May or June. One educator told Hyperallergic, “Our time was booked months in advance, with our schedules already planned till the end of June. Which means we won’t be compensated after March.”

Museums commonly hire educators as freelancers or contractors, writes Hyperallergic, “a step below even part-time employment, [which] adds to the precariousness of their condition. ‘The vast majority of New York City’s institutions employ their museum educators as contractors, meaning we’re not eligible for unemployment benefits,’ confirmed one teaching artist, who says she makes slightly under $40,000 a year from various museum jobs. ‘We’re just a line item in the ‘programming’ budget.’”

Commercial art galleries in New York, Los Angeles and other major centers have also started furloughing workers. Elizabeth Dee, in a comment on Artnet that suggested “We Don’t Know What a Post-Coronavirus Art World Will Look Like,” observed that “Our very way of life is under threat due to our over-leveraged health care system, the illness of colleagues and loved ones, and the economic hit experienced by countless sectors, including the art industry. Freelance workers, who are essential to galleries and art fairs as well as many hospitality industries, have also been left without support.”

Artnet added that “W, the art and culture magazine, furloughed all but a skeleton crew of people to maintain its website, and restauranteur Danny Meyer—who owns Untitled at The Whitney and The Modern at MoMA—laid off 80 percent of his staffers, nearly 2,000 people.”

The art world has also begun to lose individuals to COVID-19. Vittorio Gregotti, the Italian urban planner, writer and architect of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium, died in mid-March from the coronavirus. Art historian and critic Maurice Berger and architect and critic Michael Sorkin have also died from the disease.

The end result of the current wave of closures, layoffs and cutbacks will be the further concentration of arts institutions, with a relative handful of well-endowed and well-patronized museums “prospering,” while many others go under.

Significantly, the AAM in its press statement also pointed to the fact that in addition to “losses in earned revenue and unremitted expenses,” its member institutions were “expecting lost charitable contributions as donors reassess their capacity to give due to the stock market’s volatility.”

The reductions in already miserly government subsidies to the arts organizations in recent decades and their increasing reliance on wealthy benefactors has created a situation where the continued existence of institutions in many cases depends on the “generosity” or whims of multimillionaires and billionaires.

The US government spends a pittance on culture. The current budget for the National Endowment of the Arts, on which thousands of organizations rely, is $162,250,000, while the US war machine is funded to the tune of $738 billion.

Coronavirus pandemic update today, worldwide

This 28 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Jane Slaughter from Labor Notes talks about the wildcat strikes to shut down the big 3 auto companies – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – to combat the spread of coronavirus. Filmed at the UK organised online meeting, “Workplace collective action to slow coronavirus”, attended by 140 people.

Coronavirus deaths surged in Europe yesterday, with several countries recording their highest daily totals to date. Throughout continental Europe 34,028 new cases were reported and 2,352 deaths. The total number who have perished in the continent in just six weeks since the first death is approaching 20,000 (18,754): here.

Coronavirus in Europe: Overworked hospitals become death traps: here.

The 27 European Union heads of government met via video conference on Thursday evening to discuss the coronavirus crisis. With 276,000 infections and 17,300 deaths as of Thursday evening, the EU, with its 450 million inhabitants, is the epicentre of the pandemic, ahead of the United States, the country with the largest number of infections. And the numbers continue to rise dramatically. The pandemic, which respects no borders, urgently requires a Europe-wide and international response. But Thursday’s summit demonstrated the EU’s inability to provide such an answer. It concluded amid divisions and acrimony: here.

UK government buried 2016 report exposing catastrophic NHS failings during flu pandemic: here.

UK health care assistant: “There’s a fear that if we are tested for COVID-19, most of us will come back positive and the NHS will collapse”: here.

The Sri Lankan government of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse is using the enormous social, economic and political crisis produced by the COVID-19 pandemic to benefit the capitalist class. Rajapakse, with the backing of the so-called opposition parties, is exploiting the situation to further consolidate police-military rule, divert massive funds to crisis-ridden big business and inflict enormous suffering on workers and the poor: here.

Sri Lankan doctors speak out over coronavirus dangers facing health workers: here.

Big business in South Korea exploits pandemic to carry out massive assault on jobs: here.

Australian governments reject calls for lockdown despite rising COVID-19 danger: here.

Australian medical workers speak on the growing crisis in the health system: here.

Keukenhof flower park lake garden, video

This 28 March 2020 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Gardener André takes you to the lake garden – Keukenhof virtually open

Because you cannot visit Keukenhof right now, we decided to bring Keukenhof to you! In the upcoming weeks, we will show you the most beautiful places of the park.

Gardener André takes you to his favorite place in Keukenhof: the lake garden. Everything comes together there: ancient trees, a big lake and beautiful tulips! 🌷

Coronavirus pandemic update today, USA

This 27 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Heart-Transplant Patient Laid Off Because He Refused to Come in For Work Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Status Coup’s Jordan Chariton speaks with Sebastian, an Italian-American who had a heart transplant over a decade ago.

Kroger warehouse workers walk out in Memphis over coronavirus concerns. By Warren Duzak, 28 March 2020. About 400 Kroger warehouse workers in Memphis walked off their jobs yesterday to protest mind-numbing work shifts of up to 96 hours a week and unsafe working conditions as COVID-19 spreads through the state of Tennessee: here.

Corporate forces are prioritising the shoring up of capitalism – even as workers perish from Covid-19. The drive to preserve a failing economy that works for the few rather than to transform it radically for the many exists on an international level, writes KEVIN OVENDEN.

This 27 March 2020 video from the USA is called Boeing Bosses Around The Federal Government For No Strings Bailout.

As General Motors demands profits, ventilator shortage in US threatens tens of thousands of lives. 28 March 2020. The capitalist system has proven entirely unable to provide the most basic necessities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic—including ventilators and protective equipment—threatening hundreds of thousands of lives: here.

The number of officially confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States is now greater than 102,000, while the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 has surpassed 1,600. This includes more than 16,500 new cases yesterday, the most anywhere in the world, along with nearly 300 new deaths. The country alone now accounts for more than one-sixth of all coronavirus cases internationally: here.

Two New York City transit workers died Thursday of COVID-19, the first fatalities among the transit agency’s 70,000 employees. The deceased were identified as Peter Petrassi, a 49-year-old train conductor working out of an operations office in Queens, and Oliver Cyrus, a 61-year-old bus operator who worked out of the Manhattanville Depot in Manhattan: here.

The Democratic governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, finally banned “non-essential” construction projects on Friday, amid growing anger from the state’s construction workers and concerns from public health experts. Some sites, including those building affordable housing, hospitals or critical infrastructure, will remain open. Until yesterday, construction workers across New York City and state were still required to show up to work on almost any project, victims of Cuomo’s categorization of construction—including luxury apartment high-rises—as “essential businesses”: here.

”Obviously there has to be a revolt”. US teachers speak out on the coronavirus epidemic. By our reporters, 28 March 2020. Teachers across the country spoke on the impact the epidemic is having on education and the way forward.

Albany, Georgia walloped by coronavirus outbreak as governor refuses to implement state-wide stay at home order. By Aaron Murch, 28 March 2020. As of Friday the Albany area ranked second only to the New York City metro region, the epicenter of the outbreak in the US, in the number of infections per capita.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city of Detroit and surrounding suburbs continued to escalate dramatically on Friday as the health-care system strained to the breaking point. Amidst the dramatic escalation of cases, Detroit’s Democratic Party Mayor Mike Duggan endorsed, on national television, the recently released policy of Henry Ford Health System that limited essential medical resources, such as ventilators, which would be given to patients most likely to survive the virus, leaving the most vulnerable patients to die: here.

Ohio, Texas and Mississippi ban abortion under guise of fighting coronavirus: here.

Fears grow that coronavirus is taking hold among immigrants in US custody as three children test positive. By Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 28 March 2020. Adult and child detainees living in cramped quarters, herded into cafeterias and denied basic sanitation are facing the very real possibility of an escalated rate of contagion: here.

Indian peafowl don´t fear young leopard

This 27 March 2020 video from India says about itself:

A leopard cub’s afternoon nap is interrupted by a curious flock of peafowls. Normally, these birds wouldn’t go anywhere near a predator – but she’s too young to pose a serious threat.

Anti-Semitic Catholic painting in Italy

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Blood Libel Then and Now: The Enduring Impact of an Imaginary Event

October 9, 2017

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research | Co-sponsored by American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, Leo Baeck Institute, and Yeshiva University Museum

By Ben Cohen in the USA:

March 27, 2020 2:08 pm

Protests Greet ‘Repulsive’ Painting by Italian Catholic Artist Depicting Antisemitic Blood Libel

A new painting by an Italian Catholic artist that promotes the antisemitic blood libel of medieval times met with outrage on Friday, as Jewish and Catholic commentators condemned the work and called on the Vatican to do the same.

As reported by The Algemeiner on Thursday, the painting — titled “The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento in Accordance With Jewish Ritual Murder” — was revealed by its artist, Giovanni Gasparro, on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

The work shows an infant boy surrounded by a crowd of sinister Jewish men, variously wearing side-curls and religious items, who strangulate him, cut him open and drain his blood.

It is based on one of the worst episodes in the history of the “blood libel”, which falsely accused Jews of using the blood of Christians in their religious rituals — the March 1475 disappearance and death of a 2-year-old boy named Simon in the Italian town of Trento, whose fate was blamed on the local Jewish community.

Regarded as a “martyr” by the Catholic Church for centuries, Simon of Trento’s status was removed by Pope Paul VI in 1965 — the year that the Second Vatican Council issued its historic “Nostra Aetate” Declaration disavowing antisemitism.

The legacy of “Nostra Aetate” was cited by many of those who expressed disgust at the antisemitic imagery that dominates Gasparro’s painting.

“It’s repulsive to see so many classic antisemitic stereotypes stuffed into a single painting,” Sohrab Ahmari — the oped editor of the New York Post who converted to the Catholic faith — told The Algemeiner after seeing the photographs Gasparro’s canvas.

“It’s also a reminder of the wisdom and necessity of the Vatican Council’s ‘Nostra Aestate declaration,” Ahmari continued. “That clarified once and for all the Church’s opposition to antisemitism.”

Abraham Foxman — the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) who has actively promoted Jewish-Catholic dialogue — remarked that the appearance of the painting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic was itself instructive.

“Crisis times bring out the best and the worst,” Foxman told The Algemeiner on Friday. “So while we continue to be shocked by the classic antisemitism that’s surfaced during the coronavirus crisis, we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Foxman observed that the “blood libel is one of the oldest antisemitic conspiracy themes to have resurfaced in recent weeks.” He further noted that it was “sad that it should surface in Italy of all places,” given the terrible toll wreaked by the coronavirus in that country.

“One new virus fuels the ancient virus of antisemitism,” Foxman said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), pointed out that the painting’s appearance also coincided with the holidays of Passover and Easter.

“Now, on the eve of the Passover and Easter holidays, this Italian artist decides to promote the original, vicious, lurid, and long-debunked blood libel against the Jewish people through his art?” Cooper stated. “We have contacted Facebook to demand that they not provide their powerful social media platform for a screed that has led to the killing and maiming of Jews for hundreds of years.”

Cooper added that the SWC was urging the Catholic Church to condemn the painting. “This isn’t art, its hate,” he said.

Emails sent by The Algemeiner to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, seeking his comment had not been answered by press time.

On social media, the painting attracted a mix of shock and fury, with many users asking how an old and discredited libel could reappear in the 21st century.