It’s no surprise that arts and culture groups in Washington have endured significant financial losses since pandemic closures began, with staff furloughed or laid off and programming going online. A new survey released Tuesday from arts advocacy group ArtsFund gives a recent snapshot of how cultural organizations are doing.
The survey gathered data and responses from 77 arts and culture organizations in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties — primarily music, visual arts, theater and multidisciplinary organizations — over the three-month period from January to March 2021.
The data paints a picture of economic hardship, major shifts in programming and an eye to reopening in the fall.
Among the most striking data from the survey is the high percentage of layoffs and furloughs and the decreases in income that have come with the loss of in-person audiences and patrons.
As of January, 56% of the organizations surveyed still had staff furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic. That’s a decrease from the 74% of organizations that reported staff furloughs or layoffs in April 2020, when pandemic closures first started. Still, the amount these groups say they’re budgeting for personnel expenses in 2020-21 is 25% lower than in 2019-20 and 30% lower than in 2018-19, the pre-pandemic year.
Before the pandemic, the 77 organizations surveyed had budgets ranging from less than $250,000 a year (4% of respondents) to more than $5 million (24% of respondents).