COVID-19’s Impact on The Arts: Research Update May 4, 2020


The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. Since the first U.S. case was reported on January 20, 2020 cancellations and closings are taking place at thousands of arts organizations across the country, and two-thirds of the nation’s artists are now unemployed. Americans for the Arts leads the three premier national studies tracking the human and financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the arts.

Impact on Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Sector

Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts organizations are estimated to be $4.98 billion, to date. They have also lost 208 million admissions due to cancelled events, resulting in a $6.6 billion loss in event-related spending by audiences (restaurants, lodging, retail). The economic impact of these losses is $1.9 billion in lost government revenue and 328,000 jobs no longer being supported. Findings are based on 11,000 survey responses. (Survey | Dashboard)

  • 95% cancelled events.
  • 66% expect this crisis to have a “severe” impact on their organization.
  • 31% reduced artistic workforce.
  • 24% reduced staff (42% are “likely” to reduce staff).
  • 10% are “not confident” that they will survive the COVID-19 pandemic (a potential loss of 12,000 organizations).
  • And yet, 65% are delivering artistic content to raise community spirits and morale!
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 $24,000. Nationally, they expect to lose $50.6 billion in income in 2020. Findings are based on 15,700 survey responses. (Survey)

  • 95% report income loss
  • 80% experienced a decrease in creative work that generated income (61% “drastic decrease”)
  • 80% do not yet have a post-pandemic recovery plan.
  • 66% are unable to access the supplies, resources, spaces, or people necessary for their work.
  • The four most critical needs for artists to sustain their work during the pandemic: Unemployment insurance, forgivable business loan, food/housing assistance, and affordable healthcare.
  • And yet, 76% report their artistic practice has been used to raise morale, create community cohesion, or lighten the COVID-19 experience of the community.
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, and will remain so for a significant period. 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 there are activities that 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. (Survey)

  • Initial results are expected in late-May.
  • Please use the link to participate in the study and encourage others to do so.

This information is available as a handy 1-pager you can download here for reference and to share. The 1-pager will be updated frequently to reflect the latest data from the surveys.





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