Executive Director’s Letter
August 25, 2020
Since the dawn of time, artists of all kinds have lived and worked among us. Writers, painters,
and craftspeople have helped advance human technology, innovation, introspection, and
appreciation for the world. In Baltimore and throughout Maryland, you can see their many
contributions on the streets and in the classroom. They will persevere beyond the pandemic and are already making important contributions to help move through this difficult time.
In addition to the well-being of our communities, the cultural sector also makes a significant contribution to the economy. Like the hospitality sector to which it is closely linked, the cultural sector has taken a gut punch as a result of COVID 19 and will need to be a part of forthcoming public and private strategies for economic recovery.
The 2015 data from Americans for the Arts (AFTA), Arts and Economic Prosperity V, show that “Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences.”
Yet, as of August 2020, AFTA reports that:
“Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are an estimated $10.2 billion as of August 3, 2020. 96% of organizations have canceled events since the onset of the pandemic—some as far out as summer 2021—resulting in a loss of 339 million admissions and $10.7 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences at local businesses (restaurants, lodging, retail, parking). The total economic impact of organizational and audience-spending losses is $3.5 billion in lost government revenue and 609,000 jobs no longer being supported.”
If you push back and take a broader view to include “…industries such as film advertising, and fashion, as well as creative occupations musicians, artists, performers, and designers.” as Richard Florida and Michael Seman do in their report Lost Art: Measuring COVID 19’sdevastating impact on America’s creative economy from the Brookings Institute, the losses are even greater.
“Based on our creative-industry analysis, we estimate losses of 2.7 million jobs and more than$150 billion in sales of goods and services for creative industries nationwide, representing nearly a third of all jobs in those industries and 9% of annual sales. The fine and performing arts industries will be hit hardest, suffering estimated losses of almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales. These estimated losses represent 50% of all jobs in those industries and more than a quarter of all lost sales nationwide.” (Florida and Seman)
At the cultural sector’s core is face-to-face, in-person experiences. Audience attitude studies and tourism projections paint a grim picture about when people will feel safe enough to return to the theaters, museums, concerts, galleries, and community arts centers (For an example, see the Shugoll Research from Theatre Surveys.) It’s not hard to make a case for the government to include the sector in economic recovery strategies when you consider the sheer level of job loss and both the real and potential closure of small businesses.
While artists and arts administrators will continue to find innovative ways to create, just like everyone they rely on paying jobs to pay the rent, feed their kids, and pay their taxes. But because of the intimacy of the work, there is no straightforward road or even bridge to
We in this sector appreciate are committed to helping find solutions that help ensure that all citizens can meet their basic human needs—housing, food, safety. For the sake of the City, the region, and the country, it is our job to make sure that arts and culture are partners in recovery and recipients of support.
Take care of yourselves, we’re all in this together.
Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
The deadline to register online to vote is Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
The deadline for registering by mail to vote is (postmarked by) Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
The deadline to register in-person to vote is Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
The deadline to request a ballot by mail is (received by) Tuesday, October 20, 2020.
The early voting period runs from Monday, October 26, 2020 to Monday, November 2, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.
You can also register and vote on Election Day.