$4.5 billion: that’s the estimated financial toll of the coronavirus outbreak on the US cultural sector to date, calculated based on data from an ongoing survey by Americans for the Arts (AFTA). To put the figure in perspective, it is 22.5 times the combined $200 million allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in the stimulus bill passed by Congress two weeks ago.
Gathering responses from 11,004 arts organizations as of this writing, AFTA’s survey looks not simply at dollars lost, but at other important indicators of the sector’s health, such as attendance. Economic impact is measured via three categories: loss of admissions revenue (ticket sales, memberships); loss of non-admissions revenue (gift shop sales, contributions); and unexpected expenses (including spending on cleaning and disinfecting protocols, new technologies, and cancelation fees for postponed events.)
Organizations were asked to estimate responses going back to when the first coronavirus case was reported in the US, on January 20, 2020. The survey was opened to respondents on March 13.
Among the survey’s findings thus far, 94% of organizations reported having to cancel events since the crisis began, suffering a total drop in attendance of more than 55 million people. More than a third have had to dip into their financial reserves, to make up for revenue shortfalls and cover costs incurred during the pandemic.
Even more jarring are respondents’ projections for the future. Nation-wide, more than three-quarters of organizations surveyed said a temporary or permanent reduction in staff would be at least somewhat likely, with 27% considering it would be extremely likely. (Nearly a quarter of respondents said they have already reduced staff, around the same fraction of which has cut salaries.)
An interactive dashboard on AFTA’s website allows users to click through a map of the country or narrow findings by filters such as city, zip code, discipline, and budget. In New York, for instance, where 427 organizations contributed answers, the reported financial impact totals $6.8 million so far, an average of $14,251 per respondent.
That number may increase, however. AFTA notes that data from organizations who participated in the survey but could not yet provide an estimate of their financial losses was not factored into the current results. As those losses become evident over the next few weeks, organizations are encouraged to return to the survey and report them.
One survey response is less grim: 54% of respondents across the country said they had increased their online presence. The recent flood of online exhibitions, live-streamed performances, and digital resources, overwhelming as it may be, evinces the sector’s high degree of adaptability.
The estimated nearly $5 billion in losses across the cultural sector, however, does not reflect the experience of individuals in the arts — about three quarters of respondents were nonprofit arts and culture organizations, with the balance being commercial arts businesses and only a few individual artists.
A separate effort will be dedicated to measuring the impact on individuals. In its role as research partner for Artist Relief, a direct-to-artist aid initiative launched last week by a coalition of seven national arts funders, AFTA has created an impact survey for creative workers. The results will be summarized in a similar dashboard, with the aims of reaching and informing policy-makers in charge of deciding and distributing aid.
The COVID-19 Impact Survey will remain open indefinitely; organizations interested in reporting their experiences can do so here. AFTA recommends respondents re-report every three to four weeks to accurately capture the growing impact of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, individuals can fill out the related COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, here.
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Not to worry, the banks and job creators got $4.5 trillion and the government is (in)directly (via BlackRock Hedge Fund) buying securities to prop up Wall St. So you see, everything is just fine, the rich have plenty of money, and when they feel like buying art again they can get it at massive discounts from starving artists.
Comments are closed.