Article originally published in the June issue of GoRiverwalk Magazine.
The Cultural Division has been working to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on Broward County’s arts and culture community. As we collect and analyze
vast amounts of data, we are sharing our findings with our various stakeholders, and using this new knowledge to inform our strategy as we move forward. We began tracking the economic impact of COVID-19 on cultural organizations in March, and the numbers, as one would expect, are troubling.
At the time of print, our arts and culture organizations reported more than $21 million in lost income and additional expenses related to the pandemic in the months March through May. Making up that total are losses related to venue closures (more than $14 million), revenue loss from cancellations (more than $5 million) and additional expenses as a result of the pandemic (more than $1 million.) Also, in these two and half months, Broward organizations have reported a loss of more than 600,000 visitors.
The impact also trickles down to the people who make these institutions what they are. As entire seasons are cancelled, artists, musicians, stagehands, ticket takers and many others have lost their jobs, or have been
furloughed. From March through May, arts and culture organizations reported more than 800 furloughed jobs and nearly 200 jobs that have been eliminated. What remains at many institutions are core staff to keep
the organizations functioning as they try and retain their donor bases and keep audiences engaged in an environment when traditional programming options are mostly unavailable.
Just as vital during a healthy economic climate is the critical need for arts advocacy. Thanks to unanimous support from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, the Cultural Division was able to award nearly $500,000 to 38 local arts and culture organizations through an emergency, supplemental grant program using funds from sales of the Florida State Arts license plates. An additional $6 million of federal stimulus dollars has also been distributed to Broward-based cultural organizations through the CARES Act, as reported by the institutions.
As the situation continues to evolve, it is increasingly evident that we must work together to strategize our response. Getting through this pandemic will take involvement from the philanthropic, government and business sectors to strengthen Broward’s diverse arts community and ensure that it thrives into the future.