OKLAHOMA CITY - A new report released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, co-authored by Richard Florida, confirms what many in the arts in Oklahoma have feared: the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the state's arts and cultural industry.
The report shows between April 1 and July 31, 2020, Oklahoma lost 19,504 creative industry jobs and $606 million in sales of goods and services. Data indicate fine and performing arts have been hit hardest by the pandemic, with losses disproportionate to other parts of the creative economy.
Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said without relief for the arts sector, the data implies a grim outlook.
"This report verifies the dire circumstances facing our sector," Sharples said. "Artists and creative workers are out of jobs; performance venues, theaters, and festivals are shuttered; fundraising events are nearly impossible. As creative industries and occupations are essential to a healthy and growing economy, there is real risk of long-term negative outcomes for our state."
Representing 2.3 percent of the state's gross domestic product, Oklahoma's arts and cultural sector is a sizable part of the economy. A study in 2017 showed nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences have significant economic impact, including producing $872.8 million in economic activity; supporting 29,165 jobs; and generating $84.5 million in state and local tax revenue. Authors of the report say the creative sector is one of three key sectors that drive economies. The authors say lasting damage to an area's creative sector will drastically undercut culture. The report, "Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19's Devastating Impact on America's Creative Economy," is available at www.brookings.edu.