A post on social media claims The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - a cultural center located in Washington, D.C. - donated $5 million to the Democratic Party and fired staff after receiving $25 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). ( here , here ). The post begins: “Pelosi and here (sic) gang added 25 million to the bill for the Kennedy center, so they could keep everyone there employed. It’s a stretch, but OK. Then, two days later, the Kennedy center donates 5 million to the democratic party. Then, the next day, they tell over 100 employees they are layed off, and will receive no more paychecks.”
While it is true that the center received $25 million as part of the CARES Act, which was designed to provide financial stimulus in response to the coronavirus outbreak ( here ), the Kennedy Center told Reuters via email that no donation to a political organization was made. The center also said that full-time staff had not been laid-off, but that a number had been furloughed.
“The Kennedy Center is a federal instrumentality and has never donated to any political organization,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
As a non-profit organization in the U.S. (listed as 501(c)(3), one of the categories for non-profits here ), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office”, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The full list of restrictions can be seen here .
The center also confirmed that while no staff had been fired, 279 full-time employees were furloughed and 725 part-time staff members, such as restaurant and parking staff, “are not working at this time due to the Center’s closure”. They added: “The Kennedy Center is continuing to cover the costs of health benefits for all staff, including furloughed staff.”
The federally-owned performing arts center received $25 million in aid under the stimulus bill “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally” (here). The decision triggered controversy among right-wing commentators, who framed the Kennedy Center funding as an unnecessary partisan move ( here ).
In a recent public statement, the Kennedy Center said immediate action had to be taken to change its expense structure and preserve cash “in order to stretch the Center’s finances as long as possible”. The center reported $22 million of the total CARES Act aid will be spent on employee compensation, employee benefits and artist contracts and fees. See full statement ( here ).
The Reuters fact-check team previously debunked another claim regarding the CARES Act and the Kennedy Center here .
False claim: The Kennedy Center did not donate $5 million to the DNC or fire staff after receiving $25 million aid under the CARES Act
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .
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