With 2020 at an end, we sample recent coverage of the pandemic’s economic impacts on the arts industry, as well as the arts industry's size and importance to the larger economy. (Photo: OSM's return to the stage, June 8, 2020)
Unemployment has affected the arts even more deeply than restaurants and other hard-hit industries, the NY Times reports. Even well-known soloists, such as violinist Jennifer Koh, have resorted to public assistance programs. Adam Krauthamer, president of AFM Local 802 (New York City), warns that careers could be lost, potentially leading to a great cultural depression.
Another NY Times report focused on pandemic concessions, including major pay cuts at the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and National Symphony. Stagehands at the Kennedy Center and Metropolitan Opera are locked out, and Met Opera musicians are in tense negotiations. ICSOM chair Meredith Snow noted many examples of cooperation, however: “There is more of a recognition that we need to be a unified face to the community, and that we can’t be squabbling or we’re both going to go down.
The arts industry contributes more to the US economy than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing, according to a 2019 study by the US Bureau of Economic Studies and the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsNet reported. The study also found the arts growing slightly faster than the economy as a whole.
Statistics Canada’s most recent Provincial and Territorial Cultural Indicators report (2018) found a similar increase in the Canadian arts sector, even as the publishing industry experienced ongoing losses.
Major think tanks such as Brookings and Center for Strategic & International Studies released reports on the pandemic’s effects on arts and culture, and proposals to rebuild a more resilient creative economy.
European arts institutions, which had begun to rely more on private and corporate giving, have largely weathered the pandemic thanks to government bailouts, the Economist reports. Some see the crisis as an opportunity to move away from a mega-tourism model that turned city centres into “theme parks”.
The Calgary Herald published a year-in-review feature on the local arts scene in 2020, marked by ongoing struggles to sustain and innovate.