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Early COVID-19 Impacts on OAC-Funded Arts Organizations

Survey Findings

June 23, 202023 June 2020

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts

Ontario Arts Council

Article Link,-faqs-and-resources/2020/covid-19-update-for-may-6,-2020

In early April, the Ontario Arts Council conducted an online survey of organizations that had received either a project or an operating grant over the previous two years, with the objective of gathering “some high-level indicators of the early impacts of COVID-19 on OAC-funded arts organizations”. Based on 441 survey responses, this report concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic “will have devastating and multi-layered impacts” on responding organizations over both the short and long terms.

The 441 respondents represent 62% of the 715 organizations to whom the survey was sent, but no margin of error can be estimated for the data because organizations self-selected to respond to the survey. In addition, the survey was sent to grant recipients only, not all arts organizations in Ontario.

The report provides one simple measurement of how responding organizations have adjusted their activities: “almost all (94%) … have cancelled or postponed performances, exhibitions, screenings, readings or other events due to COVID-19”.

Responding organizations indicated that, on average, their anticipated loss of revenue through the end of June would amount to 16% of their total annual revenues (a loss of $128 million).

Nearly three-quarters of responding organizations (71%) indicated that they would have to take some personnel decisions “by the end of June if the current situation continues”. The most common personnel adjustments under consideration were:

  • Reducing the hours, or suspending or cancelling the contracts, of self-employed artists or contractors (62%)
  • Deferring new hires (48%)
  • Reducing or suspending employee hours (38%)
  • Reducing the compensation of self-employed artists or contractors (36%)
  • Laying off employees (31%)

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