Pandemic Continues to Hammer the Arts

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The AT&T Performing Arts Center was one of dozens of Dallas arts organizations to participate in this COVID/Arts Economic Impact Survey. It’s hard to hear, but important news for supporters of the arts community. If you want to support the Center’s ongoing arts education and community work during the pandemic, please give to the Raise the Curtain Fund.



New Survey Measures Impact on Dallas Nonprofit Cultural Organizations Through November 2020

(DALLAS) The pandemic-related impact for the nonprofit arts community within the city of Dallas has reached $95,545,710 in financial losses, including 3,145,209 in lost or deferred attendance, and more than 1,000 jobs lost. These are the results of the latest survey of the city’s cultural organizations covering the 8 1⁄2 month-period from the initial shutdown, from March 13th through November 30th, 2020.

The survey was the third conducted by The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), the Dallas Arts District, and the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC). Seventy groups responded to the most recent survey measuring the impact of the COVID pandemic and its related closures on the city’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

“The impact of the pandemic on the arts in Dallas – financial, human and cultural – continues to be staggering,” said Terry D. Loftis, president and executive director of the arts funding organization TACA. “We’re encouraged that our organizations are resilient and finding ways to engage the community. But these losses are not sustainable and no one is expecting a return to normal anytime soon.”

Over the summer, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released safety guidelines allowing museums and fine arts performance venues to reopen at significantly reduced capacity. Some workshop, classroom, and gallery spaces have been able to reopen as well. Still, many remain shuttered and the aggregate closure impact continues to climb:

  • Visual Arts (museums, galleries, exhibitions): closed 2,142 attendance days.
  • Classes/Programs/Workshops: 9,725 cancelled.
  • Performing Arts: 2,088 performances cancelled or deferred.

Many performing arts organizations have had to cancel or push back entire seasons to the fall of 2021, or into 2022– which means losing almost two years’ worth of earned revenue.

  • Fifteen arts and cultural facilities – both performing and visual arts – have reopened for live, in-person experiences – though at a reduced capacity.
  • Forty of the respondents say that their traditional performance or exhibition space has not been able to reopen.
  • Twenty-seven organizations have resumed presenting live, in-person programing.
  • Thirty-seven respondents are utilizing virtual platforms or streaming, or are presenting their work in new and alternative spaces, including parking garages, warehouses, storefronts, churches, plazas, parks, and outdoor performance venues.


  1. When asked to rank the greatest barriers to reopening, safety was number one.
  2. Thirty-nine organizations listed maintaining the safety of audiences and artists as their number one barrier.
    • Several groups noted that visiting artists do not feel safe traveling.
    • Others cited public perception. “Many of our long term patrons are 65+ and have firmly stated that they are not interested in attending a live choral performance before a vaccine is widely available,” wrote one respondent.
    • Some felt they don’t have the resources to ensure a safe environment. “I am the only staff in front-of-house,” said a respondent. “I cannot fathom how I would host, screen, take temperatures, enforce masking, enforce social distancing, clean, etc. in addition to normal [front-of-house] duties. I could cry just thinking about it.”
  3. Fourteen groups cited union restrictions as their top barrier to reopening.
  4. Ten cited financial feasibility due to the reduced audience capacity.
  5. Seven said the number one barrier was the lack of rehearsal and performance space, with some noting that many cultural centers and performance spaces have not reopened.


For those who have been able to present live and in-person experiences or virtual, 39 groups say they have been able to generate earned revenue through admissions or fees. All but one of those said those revenues were lower than normal.

Patrons, foundations and donors have been stepping up financially to help. Of the 70 respondents, 65 say they’ve been able to fundraise to help make ends meet, with 29 stating the amount is equal to or higher than normal levels.

Arts leaders also credit the City of Dallas for continuing its support.

“The fact that the City of Dallas was able to keep the funding for most organizations level with the prior year helps explain why most Dallas arts and cultural organizations have survived,” said Joanna St. Angelo, Sammons Center for the Arts Executive Director, and president of DACAC, a grass roots arts advocacy group of 77 arts supporters, artists, and groups of all size and genre. “The next year will be a challenge, but we are fortunate our City leaders recognize the importance of the arts community to the economy, jobs, tourism and the quality of life in Dallas.”


The second survey counted 1,219 full-time and part-time employees as furloughed or laid off through July 31, 2020. The data in the third survey provided inconclusive numbers on the current staff counts, but indicate there may be some improvement. In the responses, 14 groups indicated that they have been able to bring 124 people back on their payrolls (94 part-time and 29 full-time) but at least 17 organizations said they converted their temporary furloughs into permanent layoffs.

For 28 groups, salary reductions were implemented in response to the pandemic with 16 of them cutting paychecks by 20% or higher, and eight groups cutting salaries over 40%. Just four of the 28 groups had returned salaries to normal levels by November 30. Two groups said they’ve had to reduce or eliminate previously offered health and/or retirement benefits.

Despite the challenges and barriers, some groups have safely taken their performances out into the community in unique ways. Some have performed in parking lots or garages with audiences enjoying from their cars. Some have transformed storefronts into public exhibition space. Some are using outdoor venues, including plazas and parks. And many have taken their work on line providing culture, entertainment and education for audiences to enjoy at home.

“There is no question our arts community is creative, passionate and resilient, but limited resources only go so far,” said Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District. “These are small businesses sustaining major revenue and job losses. I worry that many of our organizations are reaching a tipping point. This is going to be a very difficult year.”



The survey results cover only nonprofit arts and cultural groups in the city of Dallas. It does not include individual artists. Seventy organizations responded to the third survey. A total of 91 organizations have provided economic impact figures across the three surveys. Those losses are aggregated as part of the total economic impact.


  • First Survey, March 13 through May 31, 2020 – $33.65M
    • 56 participants
  • Second Survey, March 13 through July 31, 2020 – $67.7M
    • 91 participants


SIZE (Pre-COVID annual budget numbers)

  • Under $100,000 – 22
  • $100K-$250K – 16
  • $250K-$1M – 26
  • $1M-$5M – 14
  • Over $5M – 12


  • Dance – 12
  • Literary Arts – 4
  • Multidisciplinary – 20
  • Museums/Historical Sites – 6
  • Music – 20
  • Theater – 21
  • Visual Arts – 7

ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American

  • ALAANA groups make up 24% (17) of the Survey 3 respondents.
  • Their aggregate operating budgets/expenses make up 8% of the total.
  • The 525 cancelled performances for ALAANA organizations represent 25% of total
  • performance cancellations reported.
  • Lost attendance for ALAANA organizations totaled 92,196 (3% of total respondents).


  • Nine have indicated they have been able to generate earned revenue, but all at lower than normal levels.
  • Five have not.
  • Three do not have admissions revenue.


  • Fourteen say they have generated contributed revenue.
  • Six say the levels are lower than normal.
  • Three are at normal levels.
  • Four say contributed revenue is higher than normal.
  • Three have not been able to generate contributed revenue.


Academy of Bangla Arts and Culture* African American Repertory Theater
Allegro Guitar Society American Baroque Opera Company*
Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico* Artstillery
Art House Dallas* The Artist Outreach
AT&T Performing Arts Center* Avant Chamber Ballet*
B. MOORE DANCE Beckles Dancing Company*
Big Thought Bishop Arts Theatre Center*
The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Blue Candlelight Music Series*
Bombshell Dance Project Bruce Wood Dance*
Cara Mía Theatre Company* The Cedars Union*
Chamber Music International* Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas*
Creative Arts Center of Dallas* Credo Community Choir*
Crow Museum of Asian Art at the University of Texas at Dallas* Dallas Arts District Foundation*
Cry Havoc Theater Company* Dallas Black Dance Theatre*
Dallas Bach Society* Dallas Chamber Symphony*
Dallas Center for Photography* Dallas Contemporary
Dallas Children’s Theater* Dallas Historical Society*
Dallas Heritage Village* The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture*
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum* The Dallas Opera*
Dallas Museum of Art* Dallas Summer Musicals*
Dallas SPARK!* Dallas Theater Center*
Dallas Symphony Orchestra* Dark Circles Contemporary Dance
Dallas Winds Echo Theatre*
Deep Vellum Publishing* Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra*
Fine Arts Chamber Players* Indique Dance Company
Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation* Kitchen Dog Theater*
Junior Players Lone Star Circus Arts Center, Inc.*
Limit Arts Theatre, Inc. Lumedia Musicworks*
Lone Star Wind Orchestra* Make Art with Purpose (MAP)*
Lyric Stage* Museum of Geometric and MADI Art
The Mexico Institute* Ochre House Theater*
Nasher Sculpture Center* Orchestra of New Spain*
Ollimpaxqui Ballet Over the Bridge Arts*
Orpheus Chamber Singers* Prism Movement Theater*
Perot Museum of Nature and Science* Second Thought Theatre
Sammons Center for the Arts* The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza*
Shakespeare Dallas* South Dallas Concert Choir
Soul Rep Theatre Company* Teatro Dallas*
TACA – The Arts Community Alliance* Texas Ballet Theater*
Teatro Flor Candela* TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND*
Theatre Three* Undermain Theatre*
Turtle Creek Chorale* USA Film Festival*
Uptown Players* Video Association of Dallas*
Verdigris Ensemble* Women’s Chorus of Dallas
Women Texas Film Festival The Writer’s Garret*
* Participated in 3rd Survey


Media Contact:
Chris Heinbaugh