Notice: The Kennedy Center will be open this weekend for regularly scheduled hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to midnight. All events will take place as scheduled.

The Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center Plan for Federal Government Shutdown

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (the "Kennedy Center" or "Center") is a trust instrumentality of the United States government, authorized and governed pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 76h et seq. Pursuant to its authorizing legislation, the Kennedy Center serves a dual public purpose — it is the sole federal memorial to John F. Kennedy within the city of Washington, DC, and it is the National Center for the Performing Arts (20 U.S.C. 76j). The Kennedy Center is maintained as a free public building and is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. until 12 a.m. The building contains nine theaters and performance spaces, two public restaurants, nine function/special event rooms, five public assembly areas, including galleries, halls and foyers, approximately 55,000 square feet of office space, and a parking garage with approximately 2,000 vehicle spaces.

The Kennedy Center receives a federal appropriation for operations and maintenance of the Center’s public spaces, which includes approximately 55 federal employees who handle contracting, project management, facilities services and maintenance of the physical plant, as well as federally funded contracts for security and housekeeping services and construction and maintenance projects. The Center is explicitly prohibited from using appropriated funds “for any direct expense incurred in the production of a performing arts attraction, for personnel who are involved in performing arts administration (including any supply or equipment used by the personnel), or for production, staging, public relations, marketing, fundraising, ticket sales, or education” (20 U.S.C. 76r (e)). The Kennedy Center, as a charitable trust, uses a combination of earned income, contributions and grants to perform its performing arts and educational functions.

In the event of a Government shutdown, the Kennedy Center will continue its non-appropriated functions and honor all non-appropriated fund contracts, including planned performances, educational activities, public trust functions (such as the Kennedy Center Box Office, Retail and Parking Operations), and employment activities for its approximately 1,150 trust employees. This is consistent with the Center’s activities during past government shutdowns, during which the Kennedy Center remained open and performances were maintained as scheduled.

Federal operations will be curtailed to the extent possible and non-essential federal personnel will be furloughed within one-half day; however the following activities that fall under direct appropriations will continue in order to protect life and property:

  • The Center will utilize the minimum security personnel necessary to protect the building and patrons based upon the specific needs and events of the relevant time period. Building ingress and egress will be reduced to the extent possible based upon anticipated attendance.
  • The Center will limit essential mechanical, electrical and plumbing personnel to the lowest levels possible to protect life and property with on call response from additional appropriated personnel as necessary to resolve emergencies.
  • Emergency services for essential systems such as fire alarm, electronic security, elevators, emergency generator, fire pump, and critical central plant systems will be maintained.
  • The Center will utilize minimum housekeeping and trash removal to protect people and property, with a focus on patron areas.
  • Forward funded contracts and other contracts funded with no-year or prior years’ money shall continue as scheduled, provided that contractors do not require the presence of an appropriated fund employee.

Revised January 2018

The Kennedy Center Building

Related Links