This article explores the pandemic’s effects on the arts in New York City, from the global lockout trend in arts to the resilience of the art industry ecosystem in New York City. It also examines the need for recovery and the unmet losses of art forms. For more information, please read the article in full. Then, comment below with your thoughts on the subject. We would love to hear from you!
Art forms became global lock-out trends
The first wave of the study explored the socio-demographic factors of the respondents. The results showed that the arts engagement levels were strongly related to gender, and these differences varied across non-binary categories. Participation in government schemes and other forms of social distancing were also associated with lower engagement levels. Further research should examine how time is structured during a lockdown.
Following the COVID pandemic, global lockout trends shifted toward digital arts. Cultural organizations began to use technology before the pandemic, but online engagement remained second. Resources were concentrated on in-person programming and physical exhibits. However, this trend was reversed when COVID hit the art industry. This was a silver lining for art institutions.
Arts engagement tended to be socially patterned, suggesting that participants’ capabilities, opportunities, and motivations affected their engagement levels. Younger adults, for example, were more likely to participate in arts activities, as were older adults. The lockdown had a greater effect on lower-SES individuals than on higher-income participants. The findings are also suggestive of a social class difference in arts engagement.
Recession has caused many venues and organizations to shutter, including the August festival of Glastonbury and Edinburgh. Many artists are also facing the reality of losing their paychecks. But artists are adapting to these situations by finding new ways to reach out to the public through their work. For example, Olafur Eliasson’s Symbiotic Seeing exhibition was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Luckily, a video of the robot cellist in action has been shared online, along with music by Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir.
Resilience of New York City’s arts ecosystem
A new report by American for the Arts reveals the devastating economic impact of the recent influenza pandemic on the arts and culture sector. New York City’s arts sector lost nearly $1 billion in collective income since the virus hit, and many organizations have already been forced to cut programming or layoff workers. Without a vibrant arts scene, fewer businesses will reopen and fewer visitors will return. Without a vibrant arts scene, New York City will lose a defining element of its status as a cultural hub. And, unfortunately, the impact on the arts sector has been overwhelmingly painful, especially for smaller arts organizations and working artists.
Although three percent of arts organizations closed their doors in the past year, the majority of those surveyed anticipate reopening or have plans to do so by 2021. Moreover, nearly four-fifths are strengthening their diversity plans and delivering virtual programming. However, a large number of arts organizations did not respond to the survey because they are currently closed. Thus, the recovery process in New York City is slow and difficult.
While the Arts and Cultural Sector contributed $120 billion annually to New York State’s economy, the economic impact on this sector was disproportionate. The arts industry directly affected a large portion of the city’s economy and lost jobs in food service and drinking establishments. According to the City’s Department of Labor, unemployment claims in the arts and culture sector rose by +128 percent between March 2020 and April 2020, which was higher than all other industries. The arts sector contributed over $300 million to NYC’s economy in 2019.
Arts organizations are built on the inherent drive to create. Because of this, arts organizations need to build upon their own inherent resourcefulness to ensure continued operations. By fostering such a culture, arts organizations are better able to thrive in a crisis situation. In the meantime, they may have to tap into resources that they never knew they had. It’s important to celebrate the inherent strengths of creativity and resourcefulness, which is essential for the health of the arts and culture sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on artists and arts organizations alike. The overall financial impact on arts organizations has been staggering: over $1 billion has been lost in the past year. As many as 57 percent of arts organizations in New York City have suffered severe financial impacts, with many forced to cut their budgets or lay off staff. Additionally, the unmet needs of individual artists and creative workers have been compounded by layoffs and budget cuts.
The government announced CA$1.7 billion in targeted measures to support the economy, including a fund for arts organizations. In addition, CA$55 million in emergency aid will be distributed to eligible arts organisations in phase one. This funding will cover up to 30 percent of the annual budgets of core-funded organizations. And the government is focusing on artists and arts organizations by creating new programs and initiatives. However, more funding is needed to address the long-term impact of the pandemic on the arts.
While the federal government’s CARES Act provision on pandemic unemployment assistance is important, the deadline for self-employed workers to claim benefits is fast approaching. While most arts organizations expect to reopen before the end of the year, many may have lost insurance and careers. Unemployment assistance provided to self-employed artists by foundations and arts funders is limited. If the CARES Act are not extended, the industry’s creative sector will continue to be vulnerable.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the United States’ arts industry. While employment conditions are improving for artists, the impact on in-person arts programming remains profound. In the following, Americans for the Arts summarizes the results of research into the effects of COVID-19 on the art industry. The data are updated as of 3/142022. The results of this survey will be used to design a larger project.
While digital revenue has been a boon to the art industry, this trend has not been enough to compensate for the decline in live events. While live performances account for a major portion of the art industry’s revenue, there is still a significant imbalance in revenue between artists and musicians. A series of recommendations was made for addressing these deficiencies in order to better protect artists and arts professionals. The recommendations outlined in this report include improving public investment and developing a whole-of-government approach.
Needs for recovery
The arts and culture sector in Washington state took a $100 million hit during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit ArtsFund, which tracked 121 organizations in the state, reported a decline in revenue of $95.9 million from March 2020 to March 2021. In spite of this reduction, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. Nevertheless, there are some solutions to the current crisis.
First, the Obama administration should push Congress to improve unemployment benefits for artists, and expand them to independent contractors and gig workers. Additionally, the federal government should develop policies that smooth out discrepancies in pandemic assistance, which disproportionately underpays artists who receive salaried work. Moreover, the arts can provide a means for rebuilding the economy. In fact, the arts are a major economic driver in many areas.
Second, the city should expand its efforts to secure long-term affordability for working artists. For instance, it could offer down-payment assistance to purchase buildings, offer affordable master leases for artists, and develop 5,000 units of affordable artist live-work space. This way, the arts sector will benefit from long-term stability. And finally, the city can establish a network of Arts Resource Centers in vacant storefronts.
Third, the mayor should consider providing more resources for the arts and cultural sector. According to the survey, only three-quarters of nonprofit organizations surveyed reported that they had access to sufficient cash relief, while the rest cited a substantial financial impact. The unmet needs of arts and cultural organizations are estimated to be over $170 million. As a result, the city should make more allowances for this recovery.
Fourth, artists need representation in government. The arts need to be explicitly named in policy and legislation to ensure that they are adequately represented. By including artists in policy and legislation, the state will not be left out when new policies are implemented. Finally, the artists’ mental health and overall wellbeing will benefit from the new policies. There are many implications for society, culture, and economy. So, what can we do?