The financial impact of the pandemic on the arts—and individual artists

Posted on: January 5, 2021

“In the top echelons of classical music, the violinist Jennifer Koh is by any measure a star,” writes Patricia Cohen in the 12/26 New York Times. “Now, nine months into a contagion that has halted most public gatherings and decimated the performing arts, Ms. Koh, who watched a year’s worth of bookings evaporate, is playing music from her living room and receiving food stamps. Pain can be found in nearly every nook of the economy. Millions of people have lost their jobs and tens of thousands of businesses have closed since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the United States…. During the quarter ending in September, when the overall unemployment rate averaged 8.5 percent, 52 percent of actors, 55 percent of dancers and 27 percent of musicians were out of work, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.… The new $15 billion worth of stimulus aid for performance venues and cultural institutions that Congress approved this week … will not end the mass unemployment for performers anytime soon. And it only extends federal unemployment aid through mid-March. The broader arts and culture sector … constitutes an $878 billion industry that is a bigger part of the American economy than sports, transportation, construction or agriculture.”