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Early Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on MA Cultural Sector

Bethann Steiner, Communications Director

From March 16-22, 2020 Mass Cultural Council polled the Commonwealth’s cultural sector to begin to understand the economic impact of the COVID-19/Coronavirus public health crisis on the individuals and nonprofits we serve. In just under a week, we heard from 566 cultural nonprofits and 595 individual artists/independent teaching artists-humanists-scientists. The results are striking and demand attention.

In just under a week, the Commonwealth’s nonprofit cultural organizations reported a loss of more than $55.7M in revenue. This is not a projection; this is actual lost income reported to date.

In the same period, our individual artists and independent teaching artists-humanists-scientists reported a total of more than $2.89M in lost personal income. Again, this is not a projection, it is real data.

Mass Cultural Council is sharing this data with our legislative partners on Beacon Hill who are considering proposals to offset the disruptive impacts of the Coronavirus and the practice of social distancing will have on the state economy. We hope this data will help inform their efforts.

Mass Cultural Council will continue to collect such data from the cultural sector periodically and share it with policymakers. Together with our advocacy partners, including MASSCreative and Mass Humanities, we call on the State Legislature to remember Massachusetts artists, humanists, scientists and cultural nonprofits as state emergency relief/mitigation packages are developed and advanced.

Impact on Nonprofit Cultural Organizations

In just under a week, 566 organizations completed the survey. The results are dire.

  • Total lost revenue reported is $55,748,138, which averages out to $133,368 per organization reporting specific losses.
  • 88% reported cancelling programs and events, resulting in a total of 14,978 cancellations.
  • 58% of organizations plan on laying off, furloughing and/or reducing hours for staff.
  • 8,221 jobs will be impacted, and artists will be the hardest hit:

Survey Results - COVID-19 Impacts


Impact on Individual Artists and Independent Teaching Artists/Humanists/Scientists

In just under a week, 595 individuals completed the survey. The results are dire.

  • A total of $2,885,222 in lost income reported.
    • Average of $5,098 per person.
    • Median lost income is $3,000.
  • 55% of respondents said that arts/culture income makes up 75%-100% of their total income.
  • 5,047 paying jobs/gigs have been lost.
    • Average of 9 jobs/gigs lost per person.
    • Median number of jobs/gigs lost per person is 5.

Download these findings as a PDF.

COVID-19 Resources

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