Save the arts in NYC

President's report

Volume 124, No. 4April, 2024

Sara Cutler

I recently spoke at a rally outside City Hall to oppose cuts to the arts in the New York City budget. The rally was organized by Councilmember Carlina Rivera, and other allies included DC37 and the Bronx Arts Ensemble. You can watch a video of my remarks here (or click the link above). Local 802 has submitted testimony to the city that says, in part, “With the recent announcement of cuts to DCLA and the cultural community at-large, we will see our musicians and other creative artists suffer. For so long, we have been working to ensure that musicians and their fellow artists receive the economic security they deserve. These short-sighted actions threaten the chance for all creative workers to sustain themselves. In order for New York City to remain the cultural capital of the world and retain its creative workers, you must restore the proposed October 2023 and January 2024 cuts, increase baseline support, expand funding for music education, and continue to approve important cultural initiative funding that makes it possible for our members to continue to live and work here. Anything else would be a disinvestment that will destroy what makes this city so great – our musicians, our artists, and all of our creative workers.”


This month, the president’s office has been preparing for two big upcoming negotiations with the NY Philharmonic and the Broadway League. We are sitting down with the Phil just as we are sending out this issue of Allegro. We don’t have dates yet to begin Broadway. Both units have surveyed their musicians and are formulating proposals. Separately, our negotiations with the Perelman Arts Center and the Met title callers are proceeding glacially, as ever.


We’ve hit more speedbumps with the building project and are feverishly trying to get it back on track. Our team is wonderful and is taking all the issues in stride. It pays to work with experienced professionals, whether in music or construction! (For more background on our effort to make Local 802 a “greener” building, see our past coverage here and here, and the bylaw resolution to fund the project here.)


An FYI: if you did any recording work during the pandemic (2020-2021), we have recently discovered that some members were overcharged their work dues for some engagements. We have audited all recording work dues charged for the period and will be reimbursing or crediting the overcharged amounts. Members affected by this will receive letters shortly detailing those charges and notifying of coming reimbursements or credits.


As reported in last month’s Allegro, the AFM successfully completed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in L.A. The MOA has been sent to eligible members for a ratification vote and the ballot deadline is April 1. The contract contains landmark gains concerning streaming rights and AI. Congratulations to President Gagliardi and the whole negotiating team from both coasts for achieving the agreement without any of the prolonged strikes we saw last summer with other creative unions.


I’ve been hearing from members with concerns about our pension fund, the AFM-EPF. The latest withdrawal of the application for ARPA funds is causing some confusion. Yes, it’s been a long application process, but it is still soldiering onward. This particular withdrawal is entirely due to changes in the requirements of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the PBGC), which sets the rules for all pension plans that are applying. The changes asked for were made and the application was resubmitted on March 15. This should not impact the viability of the application nor the ultimate payout from the PBGC. Many members have said they’ve contacted the fund with questions and have not heard back. We are told there have been so many calls and emails going to the fund that they do not have the staff to reply to everyone in a timely fashion. However, they are working their way through all the messages and, if you did contact them, you will hopefully hear back soon. Local 802 sent out this e-mail blast in mid-March with as much information as we knew at the time. A few days after we sent that out, we learned that the pension fund resubmitted its ARPA application on March 15 with the information needed to satisfy the PBGC’s new requirement. The pension fund’s FAQ page is here.


Finally, a reminder that, if you have any interest in running for some 802 office in December, please feel free to contact the Local 802 Leadership Committee. Your community needs you! We need candidates for all positions, including mine. It’s hard work running a union and it comes with a steep learning curve, but it’s rewarding and important work.