France Is Ready to Save the Planet. But Not at the Expense of Meat.

LYON — Grégory Doucet, the mild-mannered Green party mayor of Lyon, hardly seems a revolutionary. But he has upended France by announcing last month that elementary school lunch menus for 29,000 Lyonnais children would no longer include meat.

An outrage! An ecological diktat that could signal the end of French gastronomy, even French culture! Ministers in President Emmanuel Macron’s government clashed. If Lyon, the city of beef snouts and pigs’ ears, of saucisson and kidneys, could do such a thing, the apocalypse was surely imminent.

“The reaction has been quite astonishing,” Mr. Doucet, 47, said.

He is a slight man whose mischievous mien and goatee gives him the air of one of Dumas’s three musketeers. A political neophyte elected last year, he clearly finds it a little ludicrous that he, an apostle of less, should end up with more, sitting beneath a 25-foot ceiling in a cavernous mayor’s office adorned with brocade and busts of his forbears. That tweaking a local school menu has split the nation leaves him incredulous.

“My decision was purely pragmatic,” he insisted, eyes twinkling — a means to speed up lunches in socially distanced times by offering a single menu rather than the traditional choice of two dishes.

Not so, thundered Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister. He tweeted that dropping meat was an “unacceptable insult to French farmers and butchers” that betrays “an elitist and moralist” attitude. Julien Denormandie, the agriculture minister, called the mayor’s embrace of the meatless lunch “shameful from a social point of view” and “aberrational from a nutritional point of view.”

All of which prompted Barbara Pompili, the minister of ecological transition, to speak of the “prehistoric” views, full of “hackneyed clichés,” of these men, in effect calling two of her cabinet colleagues Neanderthals.

This heated exchange over little illustrated several things. Mr. Macron’s government and party, La République en Marche, remain an uneasy marriage of right and left. The rising popularity of the Greens, who run not only Lyon but also Bordeaux and Grenoble, has sharpened a cultural clash between urban environmental crusaders and the defenders of French tradition in the countryside.

Not least, nothing gets the French quite as dyspeptic as disagreement over food.

The mayor, it must be said, made his move in a city with an intense gastronomic tradition. At the Boucherie François on the banks of the Rhône, a centennial establishment, Lyon’s culture of meat is on ample display. The veal liver and kidneys glistened; cuts of roast beef wrapped in pork fat abounded; the heads of yellow and white chickens lolled on a counter; the saucissons, some with pistachio, took every cylindrical form; the pastry-wrapped pâté showed off a core of foie gras; and pigs’ trotters and ears betrayed this city’s carnivorous inclinations.

“The mayor made a mistake,” said François Teixeira, a butcher who has worked at François for 19 years. “This is not good for Lyon’s image.”

Certainly, the mayor’s decision came at a sensitive moment. The right in France has expressed indignation that the country is being force-marched, through politically correct environmental dogmatism, toward a future of bicycles, electric cars, veganism, locavores, negative planet-saving growth and general joylessness — something at a very far cry from stuffing goose livers for personal delectation.

Last year, Pierre Hurmic, the Green party mayor of Bordeaux, touched a nerve when he rejected the city’s traditional Christmas tree because it’s “a dead tree.” Mr. Doucet’s culinary move was part of “an ideological agenda,” the right-wing weekly Valeurs Actuelles proclaimed in a cover story. “The canteens of Lyon were just a pretext.”

Mr. Doucet, who describes himself as a “flexitarian,” or someone who favors vegetables but also eats a little meat, argues that the Education Ministry forced his hand. By doubling social distancing at schools to two meters, or more than six feet, it obliged the mayor to accelerate lunch by offering just one dish.

“There’s a mathematical equation,” he said. “You have the same number of tables, but you have to put fewer children at them, and you can’t start the lunch break at 10 a.m.”

But why nix meat? The mayor, who has a 7-year-old in elementary school, rolled his eyes. “We have not gone to a vegetarian menu! Every day, the children can eat fish or eggs.” Because a significant number of students already did not eat meat, he said, “we just took the lowest common denominator.”

It was not, Mr. Doucet said, an ideological decision, even if he aims over his six-year term to adjust school menus toward “a greater share of vegetable proteins.”

The mayor continued: “Most of the time these days there’s not much choice. You don’t have the choice to go to a museum, or to the theater, or to the cinema. It’s indecent for the right-wing opposition to say that I am trampling on our liberties in the context of a state of emergency.”

Mr. Macron has adopted a balancing act between his embrace of a Green future and, as he put it last year, his rejection of “the Amish model” for France. The president tries to differentiate rational from punitive or extreme environmentalism.

The president, casting his net wide as usual ahead of regional elections in June, wants to appeal to conservative farmers while attracting some of the Green vote. During a recent visit to a farm, he attacked attempts to forge a new agriculture based on “invective, bans and demagoguery.” In an apparent allusion to the Lyon fiasco, he has said “good sense” should prevail in balanced children’s diets and noted that, “We lose a lot of time in idiotic divisions.”

His government has proposed a Constitutional amendment, the first since 2008, that, if approved in a referendum, would add a sentence to the effect that France “guarantees the preservation of the environment and biological diversity and fights against climate change.”

The right has expressed opposition to the change. It still has to be reviewed by the right-leaning Senate. Another bill sets out possible reforms for a greener future that include banning advertisements for fossil fuels and eliminating some short-haul domestic flights.

Mr. Doucet is unimpressed. “Macron is not an ecologist. He is a modern conservative. He knows there’s a problem, so he is ready to make some changes, but he does not measure the size of the problem. Can you tell me one strong step he has taken?”

For now, the meatless Lyon school lunches are still being served. Children seem just fine. On Friday, a Lyon administrative court rejected an attempt by some parents, agricultural unions and local conservative politicians to overturn the mayor’s decision, ruling that the “temporary simplification” of school menus did not pose a health risk to children.

Mr. Doucet says that when the health crisis eases, but not before, he will be able to offer a choice of school menus again, including meat. Meanwhile, Mr. Denormandie, the agriculture minister, has asked the prefect in the Lyon area to look into the legality of dropping meat.

“Mr. Denormandie’s accusation that we are antisocial is a lie,” Mr. Doucet told me. “He said we were denying meat to the poorest people with the most precarious existences, which is false. He should have been fired at once.”

Boris Charetiers, a member of a parents’ association, said the mayor was being closely watched. “We are vigilant,” he said. “We don’t want this to be a definitive decision. Our children cannot be hostages to ecological political conviction.”

As for Mr. Teixeira, the butcher, he cast his eye appreciatively over the vast selection of meat. “We have canine teeth for a reason,” he said.

Gaëlle Fournier contributed reporting from Paris.

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Israel Has Its 4th National Election in 2 Years. Here’s Why.

JERUSALEM — Israelis head to the polls on Tuesday for the fourth time in two years, hoping to break a seemingly endless cycle of elections and a political deadlock that has left the country without a national budget during a pandemic.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes Israel’s world-leading vaccination program, which has helped the country emerge in recent days into something approaching normality, will give him and his right-wing allies an edge and the stable majority that proved elusive in three earlier rounds of elections.

But Mr. Netanyahu, prime minister since 2009, is running for re-election while standing trial on corruption charges — a dynamic that opposition parties hope will prompt voters to finally push him out of office.

In reality, though, polls show that neither bloc has a clear route to a majority, leaving many Israelis bracing for another inconclusive result, and a possible fifth election later in the year.

Parliament to dissolve, forcing a new election, though for now the government remains in place.

than by whether they are for or against Mr. Netanyahu.

a key constituency in this election campaign.

In a sign of how the political map has changed, two of Mr. Netanyahu’s principal challengers in this election cycle are also right-wingers. Gideon Saar is a former interior minister for Mr. Netanyahu’s party and Naftali Bennett is Mr. Netanyahu’s former chief of staff.

The third leading challenger is Yair Lapid, a centrist former broadcast journalist whose party is mounting the strongest challenge to Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Gantz is no longer considered a viable threat to the prime minister. Polls suggest his party may even fail to win a seat, largely because of anger among his former supporters over his decision to form a unity government with Mr. Netanyahu in the first place, an arrangement he had promised not to join.

The Parliament, known in Hebrew as the Knesset, has 120 seats that are allocated on a proportional basis to parties that win more than 3.25 percent of the vote.

The system almost guarantees that no single party will win an outright majority, often giving tiny parties big influence in the deal-making that forms coalitions. The system allows for a broad range of voices in Parliament but forming stable coalitions under it is difficult.

It could take weeks or possibly months for a new government to be formed — if one can be formed — and at any point in the process, a majority of the Knesset could vote to dissolve again, forcing yet another election.

In the days after the election, Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president, will give one lawmaker four weeks to try to form a coalition. He usually gives that mandate to the leader of the party that won the highest number of seats, which is likely to be Mr. Netanyahu. But he could grant it to another lawmaker, like Mr. Lapid, who he believes has a better chance at pulling together a viable coalition.

If that lawmaker’s efforts break down, the president can give a second candidate another four weeks to form a government. If that process also stutters, Parliament itself can nominate a third candidate to give it a go. And if he or she fails, Parliament dissolves and another election is called.

In the meantime, Mr. Netanyahu will remain caretaker prime minister. If somehow the deadlock continues until November, Mr. Gantz might still succeed him. The power-sharing deal the pair agreed to last April was enshrined into Israeli law, and stipulated that Mr. Gantz would become prime minister in November 2021.

In recent weeks, Israel has sent children back to school, reopened restaurants for in-house dining and allowed vaccinated people to attend concerts and theater performances.

Mr. Netanyahu hopes the success of Israel’s vaccine rollout, which has given a majority of Israelis at least one dose, will help propel him to victory.

But his pandemic record may also cost him. Some voters believe he politicized certain key decisions — for instance, capping some fines for flouting antivirus regulations at levels much lower than public health experts recommended.

Critics perceived this as a sop to ultra-Orthodox Israelis, some of whom flouted coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings. Mr. Netanyahu will need the support of two ultra-Orthodox parties to remain in office after the election.

Voting by mail is not available in Israel. To prevent the spread of the virus, special polling stations are being set up for quarantined people and for Covid-19 patients.

No one is ruling it out. Mr. Netanyahu’s party, Likud, is predicted to emerge as the largest party, with around 30 seats. But his allies may not win enough seats to give him a majority of 61.

And though current polling suggests the opposition parties will collectively win more than 61 seats, it’s unclear whether their profound ideological differences will allow them to come together.

The key player could be Mr. Bennett. Though he wants to replace Mr. Netanyahu, he has also not ruled out joining his government.

Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.

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‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’: Jasmila Zbanic on Dramatizing Genocide

LONDON — Jasmila Zbanic, a Bosnian film director, remembers the exact moment she heard something had gone horribly wrong in Srebrenica, a small town in her native country that was the site of the worst atrocity of the Balkan Wars.

Those conflicts accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and in Bosnia — where Muslims and ethnic Serbs and Croats had long been living — people suddenly found themselves in an ethnic war.

In July 1995, the Bosnian-Serb army overran Srebrenica, meant to be a United Nations safe haven. Zbanic, then a student, learned the city had been attacked while staying in Vermont, having temporarily escaped the war for an internship at a theater.

It was a while before she learned that soldiers had separated around 8,000 Muslim men and boys from their families in the town, then murdered them. But she already knew the violence that was likely to ensue when the army took over a city.

was nominated for best international feature at the Academy Awards, building on similar success at the BAFTAs, Britain’s version of the Oscars, where Zbanic was nominated for best director. The film is available to rent on Amazon Video.

Zbanic was 17 when the Bosnian war began, she said. She had always wanted to be a director, having grown up next to a movie theater in Sarajevo, the nation’s capital, and studied filmmaking at the city’s film and theater academy throughout the war. Her classes there continued even though Sarajevo was under siege, meaning they rarely had electricity and she had to risk being shot by snipers whenever she left home. “Every time the electricity came on for a few days, we’d watch films like a crazy marathon,” she said.

Grbavica,” her debut, is about a woman who was raped during the war and is bringing up the child conceived in that assault. It won top prize at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, marking her as one of Bosnia’s most prominent filmmakers. The later “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” follows an Australian tourist who stays at a Bosnian spa, only to learn it was the site of war crimes.

She often thought about making a film about the Srebrenica massacre, Zbanic said, but really hoped someone else would first. “It was too much, emotionally,” she said.

Five years ago, she said she finally felt able to make it herself, including being able to deal with any potential criticism from nationalistic Serbian newspapers and politicians, in and outside Bosnia, some of whom deny the massacre was a genocide or play down its extent. Mladen Grujicic, the mayor of Srebrenica, is an ethnic Serb who has been accused of denying that the massacre was a genocide (Grujicic did not respond to an interview request for this article).

called her “a hater of Serbs”). A handful of people also posted negative comments on film review sites like Google and IMDB questioning its accuracy (“Large misinformation, national hatred etc” reads a typical one).

writing on the website of the Serbian Film Center, a government-funded body, called it “easily one of the best regional films of recent years” and praised it for being made “without the usual national-nationalist colors.”

Zbanic was adamant the film is not about blame or revenge. “Serbia is not what their government is,” she said. “It never was.” She made the film, she said, because she wants to “share at least one percent of the pain” of mothers still looking for their children’s bodies, and because she also wants young people in the Balkans to see what really happened at Srebrenica so they can have more empathy with each one another and no longer be ethnically divided.

For the film’s premiere, she invited about 100 young people — Muslims and ethnic Serbs and Croats — to watch it at a memorial center in Srebrenica. “I cried the whole time when it was screened,” Sladjan Tomic, 25, a Bosnian-Serb journalist, said in an email, adding that it showed an honest view of what happened that he didn’t get as a child.

“Unfortunately, there is not much utility in this movie if my Serbian peers do not see it,” he said. But he held out some hope they might do so if it wins the Oscar.

Zbanic said the film’s message wasn’t just about Srebrenica. People need to discuss all genocides, she added, as that’s the only way to learn from them and ensure they never happen again.

“Are we are going to live with eyes closed or eyes open?” Zbanic said. “That’s the question.”

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‘I Had to Prove That I Exist’: Transgender Anchor Makes History in Bangladesh

She went to live with an uncle in Narayanganj, but still presenting as male, she was subjected to the same verbal abuse. Searching for answers, she scoured the internet. Finally, she encountered the word “transgender,” and things began to fall into place. While she had not yet met other transgender people in Bangladesh, she said, she found others she could relate to beyond the country’s borders.

“It was really amazing,” she said. “I felt that I’m not the only person in the world.”

After being accepted into college, she discovered an affinity for theater, drawn by the prospect of a life of prestige, respect and admiration. While she pursued roles as female characters, a director told her it was not possible because she had been assigned a male identity at birth.

“Bullying and harassment taught me that you have to prove yourself,” Ms. Shishir said. “You shouldn’t be trapped in a male body; you have to nurse your womanhood; you have to love your womanhood.”

The emotional toll, constant humiliation and alienation drove her to relocate to Dhaka. She got some financial support from friends — sometimes living at their homes — and found temporary work. Things took a dark turn, Ms. Shishir said, when, without income, she lived in a slum for six months.

For seven days, she said, she had no food and almost starved. But things got better.

In 2015, Ms. Shishir declared herself a transgender woman to a transgender community she met through counseling work. She chose the name Tashnuva, which means “lucky” in Bengali, followed by Anan, or “cloud.” Gradually, she grew out her hair, began wearing makeup and started hormone treatment in 2016.

Ms. Shishir recalled one doctor in Dhaka who treated her as if she had a psychosocial disorder, doling out pills that made her sicker by the day. For eight months, her skin grew coarse, dark circles formed beneath her eyes, and the treatment left her sleepless. The medication plunged her into depression, she said.

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Tashnuva Anan Shishir, Transgender News Presenter, Makes History in Bangladesh

She went to live with an uncle in Narayanganj, but still presenting as male, she was subjected to the same verbal abuse. Searching for answers, she scoured the internet. Finally, she encountered the word “transgender,” and things began to fall into place. While she had not yet met other transgender people in Bangladesh, she said, she found others she could relate to beyond the country’s borders.

“It was really amazing,” she said. “I felt that I’m not the only person in the world.”

After being accepted into college, she discovered an affinity for theater, drawn by the prospect of a life of prestige, respect and admiration. While she pursued roles as female characters, a director told her it was not possible because she had been assigned a male identity at birth.

“Bullying and harassment taught me that you have to prove yourself,” Ms. Shishir said. “You shouldn’t be trapped in a male body; you have to nurse your womanhood; you have to love your womanhood.”

The emotional toll, constant humiliation and alienation drove her to relocate to Dhaka. She got some financial support from friends — sometimes living at their homes — and found temporary work. Things took a dark turn, Ms. Shishir said, when, without income, she lived in a slum for six months.

For seven days, she said, she had no food and almost starved. But things got better.

In 2015, Ms. Shishir declared herself a transgender woman to a transgender community she met through counseling work. She chose the name Tashnuva, which means “lucky” in Bengali, followed by Anan, or “cloud.” Gradually, she grew out her hair, began wearing makeup and started hormone treatment in 2016.

Ms. Shishir recalled one doctor in Dhaka who treated her as if she had a psychosocial disorder, doling out pills that made her sicker by the day. For eight months, her skin grew coarse, dark circles formed beneath her eyes, and the treatment left her sleepless. The medication plunged her into depression, she said.

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‘We’ll Be Back,’ Broadway Says, on Shutdown Anniversary

One year ago, the grim news that Broadway was shutting down was sweeping through the theater district. Performers were packing up their things and heading home; theater staff were stationed in lobbies to intercept ticket holders and explain to them that the show was canceled.

As a return date was pushed further and further, performers and theater staff resigned themselves to finding work elsewhere.

But on Friday, the anniversary of the day their beloved industry shut its doors, Broadway singers, dancers, actors and front-of-house staffers gathered in Times Square, just across from the TKTS discount ticket booth, to perform live for a small audience of industry insiders and passers-by.

President Biden asked states to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated by May 1, a hopeful sign that shows might be able to start rehearsals over the summer.

“Mean Girls” and “Frozen,” announced that they would not be returning to Broadway, as well as two plays that were in previews, Martin McDonagh’s “Hangmen” and a revival of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” On Friday, several shows promised that they would indeed be back, including “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which got through three performances before it was forced to close, and “Six,” which had been scheduled to open on March 12, 2020.

That day, Judi Wilfore, the house manager for the Imperial Theater, remembers standing in the lobby before the scheduled evening performance of “Ain’t Too Proud” and breaking the news to ticketholders. Even though Broadway shut down on a Thursday, Wilfore came to work that weekend, too, in case any audience members showed up.

Over the summer, Wilfore decided that she needed to find work elsewhere, so she took an online course at Health Education Services, to get certified as a Covid compliance officer. At Friday’s event in Times Square, it was her job to make sure people were following safety guidelines and to manage a team of front-of-house theater staffers who were hired to help run the event.

Wilfore has been a compliance officer for gigs here and there — including the load-out of the “Beetlejuice” set from the Winter Garden Theater — but like many in the industry, she yearns for the eventual return to indoor theater, where she oversaw the bustling movements of staffers and audience members.

“We love what we do,” she said, “and the fact that we haven’t been able to do it in a year is unfathomable.”

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Protesters Occupy French Theaters, Demanding Reopening

When the government announced new coronavirus measures in the fall, it banned public performances but said theaters would reopen Dec. 15. That plan was scrapped when a target of bringing new case numbers under 5,000 a day was missed.

“Since December, we’ve had absolutely no visibility about what is going to happen,” Salinger said.

Other arts institutions, such as museums, have also called on the government for a reopening timetable. In February, the heads of dozens of the country’s major museums pleaded with the government to allow them to open their doors. “For an hour, for a day, for a week or a month, let us,” they wrote in an open letter published in Le Monde, the daily newspaper.

Soon afterward, the mayor of the city of Perpignan, in the south of the country, ordered his city’s four museums to reopen in defiance of national rules, saying his city had “suffered enough, and its inhabitants need this patch of blue sky.” The government took the city to court and the museums shut again.

The anger among workers in the arts sector is compounded by the French government’s recent decision to go ahead with an unpopular reform of unemployment benefits, set to take effect in July. The withdrawal of this change is one of the theater protesters’ demands.

On Thursday, union representatives held a video call with Bachelot and Jean Castex, France’s prime minister, where they announced 20 million euros in new support for cultural workers and young graduates. But in a phone interview afterward, Salinger said the measures were insufficient. “We will stay,” he added.

At La Colline on Wednesday, Kheroufi said he thought the protesters would be there for the long haul. “We’ll stay for as long as it takes,” he said. “If I leave, what do I do? Go home? Where can we go?”

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The Night New York’s Theaters, Museums and Concert Halls Shut Down

March began with an ominous drumbeat. A packed cruise ship with a coronavirus outbreak was left floating for days off the coast of California. South by Southwest was canceled. The N.B.A. suspended its season. And then, on March 12, Broadway shut down, and with it every large gathering in New York City.

By the time the grates came down, it was not much of a surprise. The city that never sleeps was grinding to a halt.

But it was impossible to imagine what was to come. The staggering death toll. The vast job losses. The isolation. The endlessness.

That evening, a group of Broadway bigwigs — theater owners and producers, mostly — gathered to drown their sorrows at Sardi’s, the industry hangout famous for its celebrity caricatures. They noshed, they drank, they commiserated, and they hugged. Several of them wound up infected with the virus, although there were so many meetings, and so few masks at that point, who knows how they got it.

Six,” an eagerly anticipated new musical about the wives of King Henry VIII, Broadway shut down.

Harlem Public, near her apartment. Meanwhile, the show’s producer, Kevin McCollum, fresh off canceling an 800-person opening night party at Tao Downtown, hosted about 100 members of the show’s inner circle at the Glass House Tavern, a few doors down from the theater.

“Looking back, it was ridiculous that we did that, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know, so we had a buffet of crudités, and a host of droplets, I’m sure,” he said. “We were in shock. There were people crying. We were giving it our best stiff upper lip, for the British, but we were emotionally devastated.”

Marseille. What was on the menu? “The sheer awfulness of being this close to a wonderful Broadway run.” Stiles has since put his “suitably regal” gold and black Dolce & Gabbana outfit “into very careful mothballs,” anticipating that there will yet be an opening night to celebrate. “We are very gung-ho,” he said, “and hopeful, fingers crossed, that it wont be too many months away.” MICHAEL PAULSON

Only about half of the people who bought tickets to the March 12 show at Mercury Lounge had turned up, but there were still throngs of people drinking, talking and grooving to the band. Debbie Harry of the band Blondie was there, and so was the music producer Hal Willner. He would die less than a month later from Covid-19.

Onstage, Michael C. Hall, the star of “Dexter” and lead singer of the glam rock band Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, belted and wailed into the microphone.

The staff members at Mercury Lounge knew they were watching their last live concert for a while; what “a while” meant, they had no idea. Bands had been canceling their appearances at an increasing rate, and on a call earlier that day, the owners had asked the staff members if they were still comfortable working, said Maggie Wrigley, a club manager. The line was silent for a moment, before one employee spoke up to say that no, it was no longer comfortable.

Gerhard Richter: Painting After All,” a survey of the stern and skeptical German artist, filling two floors of the landmark building and including loans from 30 different collections.

The exhibition, intended by the now 89-year-old artist to be his last major show, opened March 4. It had the makings of a blockbuster, and it ought to have introduced New York to four paintings called “Birkenau” (2014): streaked, abraded abstractions that obscure imagery of the titular death camp. On March 12, the show’s ninth day, Wagstaff realized it had to close.

At first the gravity of the crisis wasn’t fully clear. “I had every anticipation that it was going to reopen in May at the very latest,” Wagstaff said recently. But soon she realized that “Birkenau” — a culmination of Richter’s 60-year engagement with German history and the ethics of representation — would not find an audience. “Beyond a kind of personal huge disappointment, it was that the artist, so aware of his own mortality, was denied the possibility of actually making a mini-manifesto to the world. Alongside that was the curtailment of the Breuer. What we ended up with was this implosion.”

Richter never saw the show. A few days before it came down, Wagstaff stood alone with “Birkenau”: paintings about the possibility of perceiving history that, now, no one could perceive at all. “It was a kind of haunting experience,” she said. “They became almost anthropomorphic. They’re sitting there on the walls, and there’s nothing, there’s no one to witness them. The paintings are witnessing something, and that witnessing cannot be conveyed any further.”

By autumn, the Met had ceded occupancy of the Breuer to the Frick Collection. Most of Richter’s paintings had been crated up and shipped back to their lenders. Yet “Birkenau,” which belongs to the artist, stayed in New York. Wagstaff brought these most challenging works into the Met’s main building, introducing into the lavish Lehman Collection these four speechless acts of remembrance and horror. “It was a trace of the show. The viewing conditions weren’t perfect,” Wagstaff conceded. “We had really limited attendance; we still do. But people stayed in that room for a really long time. For those who came to see it, it was a revelation.” JASON FARAGO

By March 15, Broadway theaters and concert halls were empty, but in the dim light of the Comedy Cellar, audience members sat shoulder to shoulder sipping drinks and watching stand-up comedy. Masks were not required.

The comedian Carmen Lynch was hesitant about showing up that night: Her boyfriend was heading out of the city to stay with his family in Connecticut, and she planned to join him — it seemed like it was time to hunker down. But, Lynch said, she knew that the days of doing multiple shows in a single night were ending, and she wanted to make as much money as possible before the inevitable shutdown. She exchanged texts with fellow comedians to feel out who was still performing.

“I thought, ‘I’m not doing anything illegal. I’ll just do this one show and then leave,’” Lynch recalled.

So her boyfriend took her suitcase to Connecticut while she stayed to perform — one set at 7:45 p.m. another at 8:30. Before each comedian would walk onstage to tell jokes in front of the club’s famous exposed brick wall and stained glass, they would reach into a bucket to take a microphone that had been recently cleaned.

Just before Lynch went on, the comedian Lynne Koplitz took the stage, removed the sanitized microphone from the stand and theatrically wiped it down with a white cloth another time, saying, “I’ve wanted to do this for years!”

When Lynch finished her second set, she didn’t linger. She called an Uber and felt relieved when the driver accepted her request for an hour-and-a-half drive to Connecticut, not knowing how long she’d be gone (until summer) or what the city would be like when she returned (eerily empty, store windows boarded up).

She drove away, and in retrospect, she remembers it like a scene in a disaster movie. “It’s like you’re in the car,” she said, “and you turn around and there’s an explosion behind you.” JACOBS

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Detroit Museum Tries to Change After Review Cites a Culture of Fear

The Detroit Institute of Arts is taking steps to improve its workplace culture following a critical review by outside investigators who said they had fielded employee complaints of retaliation by the director whose autocratic leadership style, they said, had fostered an environment that led a disproportionate number of women on staff to leave.

The findings of the review by the law firm Crowell and Moring, which was hired by the museum, were presented to members of its board in November but were not made public.

The investigators, from the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm, also said that current and former staff members they had spoken to complained that the director, Salvador Salort-Pons, demonstrated a “lack of facility with race-related issues,” according to an audio recording of the board meeting at which the investigators presented their findings.

The museum said Monday that it had taken a number of steps in response to the findings, including establishing a new board position to be a liaison between staff members and the board of directors. It has also set up a confidential hotline for reporting discrimination, retaliation or other workplace issues.

Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm in Washington that represents some museum staff members, and was reviewed by The New York Times.

infusion of nearly a billion dollars from foundations, private donors and the State of Michigan. The investigators said employees they spoke to said they respected his efforts in this regard.

He has retained the support of the board, and last year the institute persuaded three surrounding counties to agree to continue a property tax surcharge that helps support the museum.

But morale was so low in 2017 that nearly half of museum staff said in a survey that they did not believe the institute provided a work culture where they could thrive, citing disrespect and a sense that their opinions were ignored. The review by Crowell and Moring found those problems had not been addressed in a meaningful way.

Last year, just as issues of culture and diversity roiled museums across the country, current and former employees came forward publicly with complaints, particularly about the institute’s treatment of its Black employees.

In September, the institute hired a Chicago-based diversity and inclusion consultancy. The consultancy, Kaleidoscope, has carried out a survey of employees and is organizing staff focus groups on issues such as equity and diversity. “The Board is fully committed to addressing these concerns and shared that commitment with our staff in December,” Christine Kloostra, a spokeswoman, said of the review’s findings. “At all levels of our organization, we’re working hard together to make the D.I.A. a better place for all of our team members.”

Reviewing employment data, the investigators found that a greater number of women in managerial and professional positions than men had left the museum in recent years. In 2018, for example, it found that 27 percent of women employed by the museum in managerial and professional positions had departed that year, compared to 2 percent of men. In some cases, Ellen Moran Dwyer, one of the investigating lawyers told the board, women said they had left even though they had no other job “because they were unhappy with the environment.”

Whistleblower Aid said the outside review’s findings showed there is a need for more substantial change to address serious problems their own clients brought forward several months ago.

“It’s got to the point where people are so desperate for accountability and change that they are taking this kind of step” to leak the recording of the board meeting, said John N. Tye, the founder and chief executive of Whistleblower Aid.

Some staff said they would wait to see whether the steps the institute is taking would make a difference in addressing the challenges.

“There is a glimmer of hope that something is being done,” said Margaret Thomas, house manager of the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the institute. “This whole situation should not be swept under the rug.”

She added, “I want to believe that something is going to be done about this.”

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