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Impacts of COVID-19 on Quebec museums

A survey of members of the Société des musées du Québec (Impacts de la COVID-19 sur les institutions muséales : Résultats d’un sondage effectué auprès des membres institutionnels de la SMQ en octobre 2020)

January 13, 202113 January 2021

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts

Société des musées du Québec

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The Quebec museums association (SMQ) surveyed its 262 members in October of 2020 regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The association received 120 responses, representing 46% of its members. However, no margin of error can be estimated for the data because museums self-selected to respond to the survey.

The 120 respondents have a total budget of over $185 million, for an average of about $1.5 million per responding museum. A large majority of responding museums (78%) receive government operating support.

Between April and September, the 120 museums lost a total of over $34 million in revenues from admissions and other self-generated revenues (such as shops, rentals, events, membership fees, and donations). In addition, the museums incurred over $2 million in additional costs for enhanced sanitization efforts.

Respondents indicated that they had 43% fewer workers and 65% fewer visitors than in 2019.

Given this situation, it is not surprising that financial losses are the primary budgetary concern of the responding museums (selected as a major preoccupation by 91% of respondents). Cash flow (34%) and debt (19%) are also important concerns.

Other concerns expressed by the museums include:

  • The loss of school groups and how to get these groups back after reopening, especially given the “fragile school environment”
  • Rebuilding links with the public and networks after a long closure
  • A major revision of business models, given the loss of international tourists and groups
  • The fate of longer-term development projects (such as renovations, expansions, and digital infrastructure), given current financial losses
  • Long-term planning, especially in the context of rapid shifts in government support measures
  • Loss of expertise due to employee layoffs
  • Re-motivating docents and other volunteers

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