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First to Close, Last to Open

How COVID-19 is Affecting Arts and Culture in Manitoba

January 13, 202113 January 2021

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts

Manitoba Arts Council

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Receiving 485 Manitoba-based responses in May of 2020, this survey examines the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals (70% of respondents) and organizations (30%) working in the arts and culture. As is the case for all surveys where people self-select whether to respond, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses provide a representative sample of Manitoba’s artists and cultural organizations.

Respondents represent a range of areas of practice, with the largest number of responses from those working in the visual arts, music, and film or video. The respondent pool was drawn from the Manitoba Arts Council’s client base, augmented by communications work “with organizations throughout the sector”.

Overall income or revenues reported by respondents for January through April were down by 48% for both individual artists and arts organizations. At the time of the survey, the projected income or revenue losses for May through August were 69% for individuals and 73% for organizations. Regarding expenses, organizations expected their professional fees to be reduced by 74% and their payrolls by 51% between May and August.

Exactly one-half of surveyed organizations indicated that they were not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (as of the time of the survey). Another 23% of surveyed organizations had applied for the wage subsidy. Similarly, while 35% of individual artists responding to the survey had accessed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), another 35% indicated that they were ineligible for the CERB.

The report concludes that “the comparatively high rate of self-employment in the sector as well as the seasonal nature of economic activity (with the summer typically the high-earning period) have exacerbated the impact of COVID-19. In addition, large portions of the sector rely on public gatherings that are first-to-close, last-to-open.”

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