Dallas Art Nonprofits Lose $33.65 Million in First Months of COVID-19

by Christopher Blay July 2, 2020
The Arts Community Alliance (TACA)

The Arts Community Alliance (TACA)

According to a survey from The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), Dallas Arts District (DAD), and Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC), Dallas nonprofit arts and cultural organizations report $33.65M in financial losses for the first 2 1⁄2 months of COVID-19 related closures. The losses including layoffs or furloughs of 649 artists and staff from the 57 Dallas-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that participated in the survey.

The survey, conducted in early June for the period from March 13– May 31, 2020, also points to further financial losses as federal support plans for small businesses, such as Payroll Protection Program (PPP), expire.

Crow Museum of Asian art in DallasSurvey questions covered the period. The responses break down to performing arts organizations canceling or deferring  804 performances, visual arts organizations closing collectively for 747 attendance days, and all groups having to cancel or reschedule 2,609 workshops, classes and programs, for a collective total of  $1.3M in lost or deferred attendance for the reporting period.

“These survey findings reflect the significant damage the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the arts community in Dallas,” says Terry D. Loftis, Carlson President and Executive Director of TACA. “When we fielded the survey, we anticipated the results would bring that impact to light, but these finds are truly staggering. The Dallas creative community has been impacted in ways we might never have anticipated, and without private and civic investment, we’ll be challenged to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic, affecting our community as a whole, artists, arts organizations, and audiences for the long term.”

According to the survey, the CARES ACT helped with staff retention during the reporting period, with 40 of the 57 groups applying for the funding through the Small Business Administration. Some of the SBA funds are forgivable. A dozen organizations also applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), with a few awaiting funding or approval. The remaining organizations, 16 in all, did not apply for SBA loans, with 11 reporting that they were not eligible.

Other mitigating circumstances impacting the survey groups  were refund requests from patrons, and $2.36M in increased and unanticipated expenses due to safety measure implementation. Also a factor: the projected budget cuts to the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture as a result of millions of dollars in lost revenue because of COVID-19.

“The arts generate revenue, so these closures have ripple effects across the city’s economy,” says Lily Weiss, Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District. “We not only lose the direct spending of these groups and that of the employees laid off, but also the revenue tied to restaurants, lodging, tourism, retail, transportation and more, all of that is gone.”

The survey was conducted before Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued guidelines for reopening for both museums and fine arts performance venues. In spite of the guidelines, most museums are still closed, and some are delaying reopening in light of increasing cases of the novel coronavirus in Texas. Others, such as performing arts venues, are postponing openings into 2021 as North Texas COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continue to rise.

“The arts sector is made up of small businesses and an important part of our city’s economy,” says Joanna St. Angelo, president of the DACAC, a political advocacy group representing a wide range of the city’s cultural organizations. “We felt nobody had a handle on what was happening to our arts community. This study gave us a pulse rate, and right now the prognosis isn’t good.”

Organizations surveyed were 65% small organizations (budgets under $500, 000), and 35% large organizations ($500,000 – $999,999), with eight organizations whose budgets were between $1 million to just under $5 million, and a dozen groups above the $5 million budget category. The losses include realized and projected losses, and the survey of organizations will continue with reports in the coming months.

The complete list of responding organizations is as follows:

Academy of Bangla Arts and Culture
African American Repertory Theater
Art House Dallas
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Avant Chamber Ballet
Beckles Dancing Company
Big Thought
Bishop Arts Theatre Center
Blue Candlelight Music Seres
Cara Mia Theatre
Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas
Creative Arts Center of Dallas
Crow Museum of Asian Art at the University of Texas at Dallas
Cry Havoc Theater Company
Dallas Arts District Foundation
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Dallas Center for Photography
Dallas Chamber Symphony
Dallas Children’s Theater
Dallas Heritage Village
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Summer Musicals
Dallas Symphony Association
Dallas Theater Center
Deep Vellum
Echo Theatre
Fine Arts Chamber Players
Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation
Lone Star Circus Arts Center
Lone Star Wind Orchestra
Lumedia Musicworks
Nasher Sculpture Center
Olimpaxqui Ballet Co, Inc.
Orchestra of New Spain (of the Pegasus Musical Society
Orpheus Chamber Singers Over the Bridge Arts
Prism Movement Theater
Sammons Center for the Arts
Second Thought Theatre
Shakespeare Dallas
Soul Rep Theatre Company
Teatro Dallas
Texas Ballet Theater
The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
The Cedars Union
The Dallas Opera
The Mexico Institute
The Perot Museum of Nature & Science
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas
Theatre Three
Turtle Creek Chorale
Uptown Players
USA Film Festival

For more about the survey, please visit the TACA website here.

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