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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 at least some work, and a bewildering 62 percent report they have become fully unemployed because of the crisis.
In the throes of COVID-19’s devastating effects on artists and communities, many are looking ahead to make sure that art and artists are integral to the social, cultural, and economic recovery ahead. Mayors, public health agencies, parks departments, and municipal government alike will need creative strategies to address: collective trauma and healing, anxieties about reentering public space, literal redesign of public safety and event formats, and reinvention of systems to address gross inequities that have put many at risk.
According to federal statistics, more than a third of all artists are self-employed. We also know that many key arts industries consist mainly of small businesses. For example, more than 85 percent of performing arts companies and virtually all design firms employ fewer than 20 workers.
As we all try to make sense of what the COVID-19 pandemic means for the world, for the cultural sector, and for ourselves, we thought that it might be helpful to stitch together a weekly round-up of some of the more incisive material that we have been circulating internally and discussing at AEA.
As people across the country seek ways to connect and stay hopeful, the work of the cultural sector bringing the arts to communities is more important than ever. At Americans for the Arts, we are working to gather the arts field together this summer to better understand this crisis, how we are responding to it, and how we can move forward toward recovery.
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.