New Survey Shows Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Local Arts Organizations

Financial Impact Tops $33 Million

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., June 21, 2021 – According to a COVID-19 impact survey of central Oklahoma arts organizations, the pandemic has had a $33.1 million negative impact on budgets and revenue plus significant job losses.

Allied Arts surveyed 39 nonprofits to gauge the health of area arts and cultural organizations. The survey covers a full year of operations, March 2020 through February 2021, and asked for detailed financial and employment information from organizations located in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and Shawnee.

Survey respondents reported a loss of more than 1.8 million audience members in the same time period. While many organizations were able to implement new ways of engaging patrons like hosting socially distanced outdoor performances and virtual classes, there was a sharp decline in audience size and income from ticket sales.

“While organizations got creative and pivoted to reach people in new ways, the financial loss is staggering,” said Allied Arts President and CEO Deborah McAuliffe Senner. “The sudden and sharp reduction in revenue from performance tickets, event admissions, facility rentals, memberships and more greatly impacts already tight budgets.”

The survey also showed that 521 Oklahomans lost their jobs among the 39 responding organizations due to the pandemic. The positions cut include 28 full-time staff, 17 part-time staff and 476 contract and seasonal employees. While aid from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was able to help in some instances, staff positions decreased significantly and several organizations anticipate future cuts may still be necessary.

Allied Arts found that many organizations had to tap into their reserves to continue paying expenses. Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents reported they have three months or less of financial reserves to operate. Four organizations surveyed reported zero reserves.

While restrictions are beginning to relax and organizations are starting to plan activities again, the financial and staffing losses of the past year have taken a frightful toll on the health of these organizations and will negatively impact current and future planning.

“The pandemic had a far-reaching impact on our entire community,” Senner said. “Allied Arts raised emergency funds and helped these organizations apply for other available pandemic funding, but so much more needs to be done. If we don’t join together to help these organizations restart and continue to recover, we risk a great cultural loss in central Oklahoma.”

Allied Arts continues raising funds through its annual campaign and other sources to help with the recovery of arts and cultural organizations in central Oklahoma.  To support the arts in our community, donate here.

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