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Smith Center lays off 66 previously furloughed employees

Updated October 30, 2020 - 3:23 pm

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has laid off previously furloughed workers, accepting the reality that the venue will not be open until after spring 2021.

A total of 66 workers previously furloughed will lose their benefits Dec. 31 and are directed to switch to COBRA health insurance. About 100 part-time workers, who do not receive benefits, are also sidelined. The furloughs were put in place in July. Smith Center President Myron Martin had hoped the center could reopen rather than force layoffs.

“When we furloughed out workers, we had every expectation of reopening in the first quarter of 2021,” Martin said Friday morning. “This is how the pandemic is affecting not only The Smith Center, but performing arts centers everywhere. We depend on tours for our product, if you will. Without tours, we can’t put on shows.”

Separately, The Smith Center has received from the city of Las Vegas an advance on the rental car tax payments that help pay operating expenses. The venue will receive up to $1.8 million in rental tax funds to help defray costs during the shutdown.

“It’s costing us $600,000 a month to be closed,” Martin said. “That’s utilities, insurance, security. This will help us pay those costs when we are down.” Martin also said he hopes performing arts centers across the country can be sustained through federal funding in the $10 billion Save Our Stages Act, which is stalled in the Senate.

“Maybe Save Our Stages will get through Congress after the first of the year,” Martin said. “That would be a big help to The Smith Center.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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