Lost Art

Lost Art

Measuring Covid-19's devastating impact on America's creative economy

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As COVID-19 swept the United States, the creative economy lost jobs and sales plummeted. Richard Florida and Michael Seman report on Brooking Institution research calculating those losses from April through July 2020 (the report’s stopping point though, of course, the pandemic’s impact continued) and charting them by occupation, business type, city, state and region. The report concludes that only a large scale recovery strategy involving federal, state and local governments can save the arts and culture economy. The United States’ quality of life is at stake.


The once-in-a-lifetime COVID 19 pandemic had a tremendous negative impact on the arts and artists in the United States. 

From April 1 through July 31, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on  the United States’s creative economy. This report measures the impact on the arts by occupation, industry type, region, state and major metropolitan areas. The “creative economy” is essential to the United States’ culture and quality of life. For example, the arts may often be a primary reason people visit or move to a new place.

The pandemic affected creative industries and businesses such as ad agencies – and all who work in them – and well as creative occupations no matter what the venue.

To understand the pandemic’s impact on creative industries, consider the arts from two perspectives.

The first is made up of businesses that create products and offer services in many fields involving arts and culture. For example, this group might include a ballet company and its crew and staff: dancers, massage therapists and the marketing director. Not surprisingly, fine and performing arts suffered...

About the Authors

Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, is the author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis. Michael Seman, an assistant professor of arts management at Colorado State’s LEAP Institute of the Art, is a research associate in its Regional Economic Development Institute.

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