Dallas Arts COVID Impact News Release


Both Numbers Expected to Climb, Cultural Ecosystem at Risk

(DALLAS) The nonprofit Dallas arts and cultural community suffered $33.65M in financial losses in the first 2 1⁄2 months of COVID-19 related closures, including layoffs or furloughs of 649 artists and staff, according to a survey of the city’s diverse arts organizations. The study also strongly signals these financial losses are rising and, with the expiration of federal small business support such as Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, more job losses are ahead.

The survey was conducted earlier this month by a trio of Dallas arts advocacy organizations: The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), Dallas Arts District (DAD) and Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC). The 57 Dallas-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that participated reflect a diverse range of size, age and genre serving every corner of the city. Survey questions covered the period from March 13 – when almost all cultural facilities were closed – through May 31, 2020.

According to responses, the forced closures caused:

  •   performing arts organizations to cancel or defer 804 performances
  •   visual arts organizations to close, collectively, for 747 attendance days
  •   all groups together to cancel or reschedule 2,609 workshops, classes and programs Collectively, the groups projected their lost or deferred attendance numbers of 1.3M for the 2 1⁄2 month period. “These survey findings reflect the significant damage the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the arts community in Dallas,” said 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.”

During this period, many groups were able to retain staff due to CARES Act funding through the Small Business Administration loans. Of the 57 groups, 40 organizations applied for SBA support.

  •   40 cultural groups received PPP loans, many of which are forgivable.
  •   12 organizations also applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
  •   A handful of applications were awaiting funding or approval
  •   16 small organizations did not apply for SBA support, 11 saying they were not eligible. To achieve forgiveness of these loans, recipients were required to keep a number of staff employed at certain pay levels for a period of time, usually 8 weeks. Most of those loans begin expiring this month. This is already causing some groups to implement new furloughs or layoffs. Some are implementing salary reductions for the staff that remain. The impact is threatening local arts organizations of every size, age and genre, many of which operate on a shoestring.
  •   They rely heavily on ticket and program revenue, fees from classes, and ancillary revenue that comes with attendance, including food, beverage and alcohol sales, concessions, gift shops, parking, ticket fees, sponsorships and more. All of these dried up.
  •   The groups face refund requests from patrons, further depleting cash – though some patrons are willing to take a credit for their ticket or donate the value back to the nonprofit organization.
  •   Included in the losses are $2.36M in increased and unanticipated expenses, including the COVID-19 costs of making offices and cultural facilities safe for patrons, staff and artists before they reopen. Adding to the levels of concern: severe projected budget cuts to the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture as officials grapple with millions of dollars in lost revenue due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. “The arts generate revenue, so these closures have ripple effects across the city’s economy,” said 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 nonprofit arts and culture sector in Dallas alone was generating an annual economic impact of $891M supporting 13,000 jobs, according to a 2015 study1. The sector drives tourism, boosts property values and helps attract corporate relocations and talent. That economic impact also generates $45M in local tax revenue, the loss of which would have a negative impact on the City of Dallas budget. 1 2015 Arts and Economic Prosperity Study, Americans for the Arts, city of Dallas

Since the survey was conducted, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued guidelines for reopening for both museums and fine arts performance venues, albeit at reduced capacity numbers.

While carefully watching local pandemic numbers, a number of Dallas museums are targeting reopening in the July-August time frame. However, most performing arts venues do not anticipate opening until late in the summer or early fall, with some moving their entire seasons into 2021. Adding to the uncertainty are rising North Texas COVID-19 hospitalization numbers which could prompt new restrictions or closures.

“The arts sector is made up of small businesses and an important part of our city’s economy,” said 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.”

TACA, DAD and DACAC plan to continue the survey every few months to mark changes, including additional financial and job losses.


RESPONDENT BUDGET CATEGORY Small Organizations (65%)

  •   Under $249,999 15
  •   $250,000 – $499,999 12
  •   $500,000 – $999,999 10 Large Organizations (35%)
  •   $1,000,000 – $4,999,999 8
  •   Above $5,000,000 12 FINANCIAL LOSSES The survey was conducted during the second and third week in May so the losses are both realized and projected. By that point in time, most organizations had already canceled of deferred programs.
  •   $26,243,127
  •   $5,047,419
  •   $2,362,691
  •   $33,653,237 REOPENING

Projected value of reported lost/deferred admissions revenue Projected value of lost/deferred non-admissions revenue (food & beverage, retail, parking, ancillaries, etc.)
Projected value of increased/unanticipated expenses

Total projected financial impact for the period
including lost/deferred revenue and unanticipated expenses

Non-performance based institutions appear more optimistic about re-opening than performance based groups.

  •   67% of non-performance based respondents have set a date for reopening
  •   44% of performance based respondents have set a date for re-opening JOBS Most of the impact through May 31 has been to part-time positions, with forgivable PPP loans used to retain full-time staff. As those loans expire, we anticipate full-time job losses to rise steeply. Part-Time Employees
  •   1,394 Average number of PTEs annually employed across 57 organizations
  •   567 Number of PTEs laid off or furloughed in this period (41%) Full-Time Employees
  •   1,140 Average number of FTEs annually employed across 57 organizations
  •   82 Number of FTEs laid off or furloughed in this period

Press inquiries:

Chris Heinbaugh 214-507-1460