More Than 60 Percent of Artists in U.S. Are Unemployed Because of Pandemic, Survey Finds

More Than 60 Percent of Artists in U.S. Are Unemployed Because of Pandemic, Survey Finds

The past month has made obvious just how great a toll the coronavirus pandemic has been on American art workers, with major art institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, laying off employees to mitigate financial losses. But artists have suffered because of the pandemic alongside them, and a new survey from the initiative Artist Relief—a coalition of seven national arts grant makers, including Artadia, Creative Capital, and Foundation for Contemporary Arts—offers data on how they have been adversely affected by various shutdowns as well.

Following its first funding cycle, for which over 55,000 artists applied for $5,000 emergency relief grants, Artist Relief has released findings, co-presented by the the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, that paint a grim picture for artists. Relying on responses from more than 11,000 artists based in the U.S., the Covid-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers reveals that 62 percent of artists in the country have become fully unemployed as a result of the crisis.

The survey finds that the average decline in estimated total annual income is $27,103 and that 95 percent of respondents have experienced income loss because of Covid-19. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they are unable to access supplies, resources, spaces, or people necessary for their work. Eighty percent said that they do not yet have a plan for recovery from these kinds of losses.

Designed by Americans for the Arts, the survey was intended to highlight the needs and challenges of creative workers amid the coronavirus crisis. Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said in a statement that the results “will prove to be a key piece to further our local, state, and federal policy efforts specific to individual creative workers in the next phase of Covid-19 recovery.”

Update 4/24/20, 2:40 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Pace Gallery had issued lay offs as a result of the pandemic. The gallery has furloughed employees, but none have been laid off.


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