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The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Arts and Culture Sector

June 23, 202023 June 2020

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts

Americans for the Arts

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This regularly updated dashboard summarizes findings from American surveys related to the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus on the arts and culture sector. At the time of writing, the surveys had received 13,960 responses from organizations and 15,752 from individual artists. A margin of error and confidence levels cannot be estimated for these data, because the sample is comprised of individuals and organizations who self-selected to participate, not a random sample.

Among responding organizations, more than one-half (58%) are confident that they “will survive the impact of COVID-19”. Organizations report a range of financial concerns, including:

  • Reduced philanthropic giving (67%)
  • Limited savings or cash reserves (66%)
  • Cancelled contracts (48%)
  • Inability to make payroll (34%)
  • Inability to pay bills (33%)
  • Business closure (25%)
  • Late payments or collection losses from clients or customers (24%)

Just 4% of responding organizations reported no financial concerns.

The median financial impact per organization is $38,000. Extrapolated to all American arts and culture organizations, the dashboard estimates the overall economic impact to be $5.5 billion.

A text summary of the survey findings notes that “nearly every arts organization has postponed or outright cancelled performances, exhibitions, and events”. Lost attendance is estimated at nearly 63 million, with a median loss of 1,000 attendees per organization.

According to the survey, 91% of responding organizations “have participated in their community’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts”. Three types of efforts have been most common among these cultural organizations:

  • “Delivering artistic content in order to raise community spirits and morale during social distancing/quarantine” (65%)
  • Making the organization’s “cultural product available digitally” (60%)
  • Communicating messages to the organization’s “constituents about the importance of ‘social distancing’, washing hands regularly, wearing gloves and masks, etc.” (59%)

Survey findings for individual artists and creative workers, which can be found at a related site, show that 94% of respondents have lost income from their artistic work or creative practice and 68% have endured “unanticipated expenditures to [their] artistic/creative practice as a result of the coronavirus pandemic”. Combining lost income and unanticipated expenses, the average financial impact per responding artist and creative worker is $21,342.

61% of responding artists and creative workers have “become fully unemployed because of COVID-19”. As a result, 52% of individuals report that they have no savings “now, in the midst of COVID-19”. Another 28% just have between one and two months of savings.

A large majority of respondents (79%) have seen their creative productivity decline (61% “drastically” and 18% “somewhat”). Among the many reasons for the reduction in creative productivity, two are most common:

  • “Inability to access the supplies, resources, spaces, and/or people necessary for my artistic/creative practice” (66%)
  • “Stress, anxiety, and/or depression about the state of the world” (65%)

Among “creative entrepreneurs, business owners, or operators”, 53% have “had to cancel contracts, furlough or lay off workers, and/or delay payments because of the COVID-19 crisis”.

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