Monday, May 18, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic continues to gnaw away at the nation’s arts and cultural infrastructure. Nearly every arts organization has postponed or outright cancelled performances, exhibitions, and events. Similarly, nearly every working artist has lost at least some work, and a bewildering 62 percent report they have become fully unemployed because of the crisis.

While this is the most challenging time for artists and arts organizations in generations, they continue to rise in service to their communities with resilience and compassion. Live performances are being shared via Facebook, new interactive murals can be viewed while practicing social distancing, and thousands of museums provide free online tours of their collections. 76% of arts organizations (and 68% of artists) are using the arts to strengthen community cohesion, raise morale, and lighten the COVID-19 experience of the community.

Americans for the Arts continues its tracking of the human and financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the arts through its four national studies. The following are highlights of the impact findings between the dates of January 20, 2020—when the first case was reported in the U.S.—and May 18, 2020. Links are provided to the surveys and, where available, a dashboard of the data findings.

The most current version of this research update is available to download as a 1-pager here.

Impact on Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Sector

Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are an estimated $5.5 billion as of May 18, 2020. They also have lost 210 million admissions due to cancelled events, resulting in a $6.7 billion loss in event-related spending by audiences at local businesses (restaurants, lodging, retail). The economic impact of these losses is $2.0 billion in lost government revenue and 348,000 jobs no longer being supported. Findings are based on 11,500 survey responses. (Survey | Dashboard)

  • 95% cancelled events.
  • 67% expect this crisis to have a “severe” impact on their organization.
  • 30% reduced artistic workforce.
  • 24% reduced staff (40% are “likely” to reduce staff).
  • 10% are “not confident” that they will survive the COVID-19 pandemic (a potential loss of 12,000 organizations).
Impact on Artist/Creative Workers

Artists/creatives are among the most severely affected workers by the COVID-19 crisis. 62% have become fully unemployed and the average financial loss per artist/creative worker is $21,000, to date. Nationally, they expect to lose $50.6 billion in income in 2020. Findings are based on 17,800 survey responses. (Survey | Dashboard)

  • 95% report income loss.
  • 80% experienced a decrease in creative work that generated income (61% “drastic decrease”).
  • 66% are unable to access the supplies, resources, spaces, or people necessary for their work.
CARES Act Arts Funding Tracker

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the $2.3 trillion CARES Act, with new funding added to replenish popular programs, to financially support small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and gig workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This Tracker measures the success of the arts sector in securing eight federal CARES Act relief funding programs. Results to date are based on 1,400 respondents. (Share your experience here)

  • Payroll Protection Program (PPP): 78% success rate
  • Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL): 38% success rate
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): 33% success rate
COVID-19 and Social Distancing: Impact of Arts and Other Activities on Mental Health

Due to COVID-19, millions of Americans are isolated in their homes. This new study is designed to strengthen our understanding of the mental health impacts of sheltering in place, social distancing, and isolation—and to determine if certain activities buffer against those ill effects (such as the arts). The study is a partnership between University College London, University of Florida, and Americans for the Arts. All are encouraged welcome to participate in this study of the public. Click here to participate. Initial results are expected in June 2020. (Survey)