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By the numbers: arts organizations nationwide emerge bruised from pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the nation’s arts and culture sector comprised 4.3 percent of the economy and represented a $919.7 billion industry with 5.2 million jobs.

The World Economic Forum in May 2020 reported that the music industry lost approximately half its revenue with the cancellation of concerts and other performances.

Globally, the industry was worth more than $50 billion, with live music making up half the industry’s revenues, the forum estimated.

According to a June 28 research update from Americans for the Arts, the virus continues to affect the country’s arts sector and its workforce.

To date, the financial losses experienced by nonprofit arts and culture organizations across the U.S. are estimated at $17.5 billion, the nonprofit reports. With the cancellation of events, the organization estimates organizations have lost revenue from 543 million tickets.

The local businesses such as restaurants and hotels that benefit from the ripple effect of people attending performances and other events have lost $17.2 billion in audience’s ancillary spending, the research update states.

As of this summer, according to Americans for the Arts, approximately 49 percent of the organizations that offer in-person programming are still closed.

The research update notes that 95 percent of workers in the arts and other creative fields lost their creative income.

Last year, 63 percent of the creative workforce was unemployed, with BIPOC artists experiencing higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts. BIPOC artists also lost a higher percentage of their creative income, according to the Americans for the Arts.

In Vermont, according to a 2020 report by Brookings, the pandemic disrupted 8,090 jobs and affected the state economy to the tune of $216 million.

While the number of creative jobs has increased this year, the sector overall is still 21 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #620 (Wednesday, July 7, 2021). This story appeared on page A2.

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