Art Market

Creative industries in the United States have lost 2.7 million jobs and $150 billion in sales due to COVID-19, a study found.

Daria Simone Harper
Aug 12, 2020 4:03PM, via Brookings Institute

Photo by Étienne Godiard, via Unsplash.

A new study by Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Brookings Institution estimates creative industries in the United States shed roughly 2.7 million jobs and lost over $150 billion in sales between April 1st and July 31st due to COVID-19. The study, titled “Lost Art: Measuring Covid-19’s devastating impact on America’s creative economy,” finds that the fine and performing arts industries have been hit especially hard, experiencing estimated losses of nearly 1.4 million jobs—about half of all U.S. jobs in those fields—and $42.5 billion in sales.

The report, which estimates losses for the 20 largest creative occupations, shows that photographers, musicians, writers, and actors are among those most heavily impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Fine artists—which includes painters, illustrators, and sculptors—have experienced the fifth-biggest loss of income of any group, suffering a decrease of 123,639 jobs and average earning losses of $1.7 billion per month.

The data for the report was collected between April and July by authors Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto, and Michael Seman, an assistant professor of arts management at Colorado State University’s LEAP Institute for the Arts. Seman told The Art Newspaper:

Although these results are at best sobering, the COVID-19 crisis offers an opportunity to look at how the creative industries operate in the U.S. and the existing policy directed towards them. A large number of the most creative, skilled, and savvy people in the country are out of jobs simultaneously. How can we harness that resource and develop collaborative projects and programs for them that might foster interdisciplinary work, enhance skills, and result in innovation in process and product?

Seman and Florida, like many cultural workers, have called on governments to increase their financial aid and support for the creative and cultural sector. Some have suggested that a 21st century equivalent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program is necessary to provide artists and other creative workers with job opportunities. The Brookings Institution report notes: “Any additional infrastructure funding should also include artists and creatives in ways similar to the New Deal-era Federal Art Project of the 1930s and 1940s.”

Daria Simone Harper