Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: COVID-19’s $$$ toll on the arts in the billions and counting

Critic At Large

Americans for the Arts statistics

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – People who like to catch a concert or a play aren’t finding many fun nights out these days.

The coronavirus COVID-19 has punched the performance scene in the gut.

New findings show how hard the hit is – a dark side of what happened in the past year.

Nationally, a large portion of arts organizations have lost $14.8 billion so far in the pandemic.

Also, 99 percent of the organizations canceled or postponed events.

The loss of audience spending at local restaurants, lodging and stores amounts to $15.3 billion as of Jan. 11, 2021.

Americans for the Arts, a research and support organization, estimates 59 percent of cultural organizations remain closed. And:

+ 484 million admissions vanished with the cancellations.

+ 35 percent of cultural organizations laid off or furloughed staff.

+ Among artists and creative workers, 95 percent report a loss of income.

+ 63 percent have become fully unemployed.

+ 78 percent have no post-pandemic financial recovery plan.

Within these statistics are 83 cultural organizations in Northeastern Wisconsin that receive grant support.

In the 16 counties in the region, I calculate more than 900 productions have been canceled or postponed.

Easily more than 3,000 performances did not happen.

A theater director in our area calls these numbers “sad, sad, sad.”

Nationally, changes are surfacing – such as 63 percent of organizations are making their cultural product available online.

My columns keep track of what is happening in the region.

Americans for the Arts has details at

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