Spring is around the corner, and we are anxiously taking steps to reopen our economy. As we look toward a better 2021, we cannot forget the pandemic’s financial impact on the arts community. The arts quickly pivoted from in-person to online shows. This shift helped us engage, educate, and create a community during the most difficult times. It is well documented that the arts are integral to our community’s social and economic well-being and vitality. Now we, as a community, must take action to support our local arts.
The lasting financial impact of COVID-19
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural sector in Fairfax has been sizable. Americans for the Arts (AFTA) continues to track the financial impact through their COVID-19 Dashboard. As of this writing, more than 4.5 million net losses have been reported from over 60 Fairfax County organizations. In Virginia, the overall impact is almost $18 million in financial losses. The data tells the story – the arts are struggling in our community.
According to AFTA’s report, nationally, about 13% of arts organizations are not confident of surviving the pandemic’s impact, while 62% are expecting severe financial consequences to their organizations.
In Fairfax County, 84% of arts organizations increased their online presence while laying off and furloughing staff within a short amount of time. Even with staff reductions, over 56% of county arts organizations reported using their financial reserves to keep going. The loss of annual income is creating a financial hole that many organizations may not be able to overcome.
Financial challenges are nothing new to the arts community, but the pandemic aftershocks continue to rattle organizations. The arts community is worried about the future and responded as such to the AFTA question, “What is Your Major Financial Obstacle?”:
- 57% using all of limited savings/cash reserves
- 50% reduced giving/donations
- 43% the inability to make payroll
- 21% canceled contracts
- 14% local business closures on the arts.
The arts helped us through this disastrous year. Please continue to advocate and support arts organizations in your community.