Greater Cleveland’s storied arts and culture sector needs support like never before: op ed

Northeast Ohio has long been proud of its arts and culture sector, which features nationally ranked programs and cutting-edge collaborations. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on public health and our economy. As we work together to provide relief and support our communities, we must also work together to protect one of our greatest regional assets: our arts and culture sector.

Arts and culture unemployment levels have risen to 62% nationwide, according to surveys conducted by Americans for the Arts. The surveys show that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations faced losses of $8.4 billion as of June 29. They have also lost 325 million admissions from canceled events, resulting in a $10.3 billion loss in spending by audiences. The total economic impact is $3.1 billion in lost government revenue, and 533,000 jobs no longer supported.

Venue closures have forced arts and culture organizations to experience revenue and staff losses at levels unseen since the Great Recession.

Federal relief packages have failed to adequately address these losses. The arts and culture sector received only 1.4% of the total amount allocated through the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program, and participating in PPP has been difficult for businesses that cannot reopen, like theaters and music venues. Economic Injury Disaster Loans, supposedly available for up to $2 million, have come in significantly lower for some organizations. Federal allocations to the National Endowment for the Arts pale in comparison to the devastation wrought by COVID-19 on the sector.

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