Boston Camerata bank fired them

Machaut pens extended appeal.

Back in medieval France, the great poet-musician Guillaume de Machaut wrote his greatest novel (about his affair with a young poetess) and composed some of his most haunting songs during the plague years. Inspired by her example, Anne Azéma, the Camerata team and its board of directors have decided to continue planning and creating musical and musical projects, fearless in will and energy by the current health crisis. The great Machaut displayed similar courage during the Black Death. We want to be like him.

On the other hand, Guillaume de Machaut never had to deal with the American banking system.

Yesterday, Friday April 3, our Boston Camerata Business Manager Peter Smith filed the online application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the new licensed emergency provider for small businesses. This was supposedly the first day the funds were made available, and we wanted to be as quick as possible with our request. The online form went to Bank of America, the bank of Camerata. Here is the response that Peter and we received:

“Based on our records, your account is not eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan through Bank of America. To apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan through Bank of America, you must have an existing small business relationship with the following: small business checking account opened no later than 2/15/2020, loan relationship small business, credit card included, open no later than 02/15/2020, Online banking username and password.

Condition number two was the killer. We are required by this bank, in an unexpected twist, to have a “small business lending relationship, including credit card”. Wow, Nelly! There is no such requirement in the recent law passed by Congress. This tells us, very clearly, that BOA is in violation of the intent of the law, and possibly the letter of the law as well. (And, by the way, Camerata has no debt record with our bank because we have a conservative, cautious board of directors who run an admirably tight ship. So we are being punished for our good management!)

Can you imagine the cries of anguish rising as other outfits, similar to ours, receive this response? A knowledgeable friend in charge of a local bank in Newburyport tells us in no uncertain terms that the whole program was very poorly planned and executed.

Following the shocking refusal by the BOA, Peter, Anne Azéma and the members of the board of directors were busy all afternoon and Friday evening contacting the media and public figures. We sent a first report, very similar to the one you received, to the Globe music journalists. One communication that was helpful was the one made to Senator Markey’s office. Anne’s call was returned by a very helpful staff member. She said that they have received many calls similar to ours, and that they are currently working on a major media / communication campaign in response. Brett Donham. our intrepid Chairman of the Board, has been in contact with Senator Warren’s office, as has Anne herself.

Meanwhile, since we have to keep the lights on, Peter applied for a more conventional small business loan. But that’s not how it should work.

“It’s very disturbing and disturbing,” says Anne. Or, as my grandmother would have said, “A shanty! “And, from his perch in the Pantheon of Poets, we heard Guillaume de Machaut murmur:” What a shame!

Joel Cohen is Music Director Emeritus of the Boston Camerata. He continues to be closely involved with Camerata as a board member, music researcher / consultant, occasional performer and Facebook editor.

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