The Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center Plan for Federal Government Shutdown

Building hours

During the government shutdown, all performances will go on as scheduled, with the Kennedy Center opening to the public two hours prior to the first performance of the day. Please see our event calendar for specific daily performance times.

In general, the Kennedy Center's public hours will be curtailed as follows:

  • On days when there are only evening performances, the building will open to the public at 5 p.m.
  • On days with daytime performances, the building's opening time will be determined by the performance schedule. Check the home page daily for opening times.
  • The Kennedy Center Box Office and Gift Shops will remain open for regular hours Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sunday, noon–9 p.m.

During times when the building is closed to the public, access for visitors will be through A Level North parking portals to the A Level lobby or through the Hall of States entrances. The Hall of Nations doors will be closed to public entry. Visitors will be permitted to enter only for the following purposes:

  • To purchase tickets at the Box Office
  • To shop in the Gift Shop
  • For business appointments with staff
  • For technical/rehearsal purposes related to performances

* Please enter the Kennedy Center Garage through the A Level North portal to get a parking entrance ticket for up to 2 hours free parking with validation at the Box Office or Gift Shop.

School performances will continue as scheduled with all access to occur through the Hall of States. When the building is closed, there will be no tours and the KC Café will be closed. The KC Café and The Roof Terrace Restaurant will be open in advance of all performances.

The Kennedy Center Shuttle Buses from the Metro will continue to operate on regular or holiday schedules.

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 am until 12 am. 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.

The Kennedy Center will proceed with an orderly shutdown of federally funded activities as described below. Federal operations will be curtailed to the extent possible and non-essential federal personnel will be furloughed. Employees who are not designated as excepted will be given up to four (4) hours to complete an orderly shutdown on their next reporting date and will be released from work until funding is restored and normal business resumes. However, excepted employees performing the following activities that fall under direct appropriations will continue to work 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.

The Kennedy Center is prohibited from accepting voluntary services from federal employees to continue their regular duties and staff who are not excepted will not be permitted to work at the Kennedy Center, from home, or another site and may not access Kennedy Center email.

In the event of a shutdown, notices will be posted at public entrances to the Kennedy Center to inform the visiting public of the reduced hours of operation. In addition, the Kennedy Center's main website will be updated and the main telephone number (202-467-4600) will have a recorded message about the Kennedy Center's status.

Furloughed employees should consult the Office of Personnel Management's website and monitor local television and radio stations for information about returning to duty.

Revised December 2018