Theatres remain dark and stages remain empty. Parts of the economy have opened with small moments of “normalcy,” yet there is nothing normal about the pall upon the arts sector.
Based on analysis from Brookings, Ohio’s arts and culture industry suffers from the highest unemployment rates with one-third of the sector out of work. That is more than 80,000 jobs and an estimated $3.3 billion in accumulative economic loss from April through July 2020.
“Arts, culture, and creativity are one of the three key sectors… that drive regional economies. Any lasting damage to the creative sector will drastically undercut our culture, well-being, and quality of life.” — Brookings Report
In Ohio, art galleries and museums were allowed to open in June with social distancing guidelines and other measures such as timed tickets to manage attendance.
It was not until August that the state determined that performing arts theatres could reopen with interior attendance capped at the lesser of 15% or 300 people and outdoor attendance capped at lesser of 15% or 1,500 people.
Capacity limited to 15% is not a financially viable option to keep doors open, pay employees, hire artists, and engage the community. And it’s not only a drain on the bottom line — it’s a drain on creativity, culture, and well-being.
My career began in the arts sector, my life has been enriched tremendously through arts experiences, and I have seen clients whose work has changed the lives of those they serve — especially youth. The arts transcend cultures, languages, and barriers. They build economies and inspire generations. Yet, despite their impact, there will most certainly be arts organizations that do not survive the pandemic.
Americans for the Arts states, “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 some work and a bewildering 62 percent report they have become fully unemployed because of the crisis.”
While the leisure, hospitality, hotel, and food service industries have been devastated by the pandemic, there are more Ohioans unemployed in arts and entertainment than those sectors according to the August 2020 Ohio Labor Market report.
The effect of this economic loss is magnified by the artistic loss. At a time when our country desperately needs to come together in our common humanity, the sector designed to serve that mission remains in the dark.
The arts need our support. Now is the time to invest in the organizations that create vibrancy within our communities and enhance the lives of all generations.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO