By any measure, the COVID-19 pandemic and fallout has had a devastating impact on the arts and cultural community. Museums, galleries, and concert halls are shuttered. Dance and pottery studios alike are closed. Public art and creative placemaking projects are on pause. Even arts education is a challenge: with schools closed, many students do not have access to necessary space and supplies.
The effect of these closures and cancellations? Fewer opportunities for creative expression and the shared cultural experiences that make our communities healthy, connected, and vibrant.
Data collected by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) in the early days of the crisis found that the state’s nonprofit cultural organizations reported losses of more than $55.7 million before March 22, while independent artists and teaching artists reported a total of nearly $3 million in lost personal income. A more recent survey from national advocacy organization Americans for the Arts found that only 55 percent of respondents in Massachusetts felt confident that their organization would survive the impact of COVID-19.
In response to the crisis, starting in March 2020 the Arts & Culture team has helped to facilitate several discussions with the Massachusetts Cultural Data Working Group, a consortium of local, state, and regional arts and cultural organizations, funders, advocates, and policymakers. The Arts & Culture team will continue to play a role in coordinating data collection efforts being launched by organizations, municipalities, and state agencies to track the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural community in Massachusetts.
We also have compiled resources for the arts and cultural sector, including links to surveys on the crisis’s economic impact and opportunities to participate in state and federal arts advocacy efforts. You can find that list here: https://www.mapc.org/resource-library/covid-19-resources/#arts-resources We’ll continue to update this list as we learn about new resources, webinars, and advocacy opportunities.
As the spring progresses, we’ll be branching out a bit more from immediate responses to COVID-19. Later this spring, we will be announcing a new series of virtual convenings and content for local and state government staff whose work intersects with the arts and culture sector, as well as artists, culture bearers, and community leaders. Through these convenings, we hope to foster spaces where participants can share ideas and shape more just futures for our post-pandemic cultural and civic infrastructure. Now more than ever, we need arts and culture to help us reimagine, to envision what it looks like to rebuild, and to give us creative agency in shaping the future. We hope you’ll join us.