According to Statistics Canada, businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector are the most severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, along with accommodation and food.
According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, around 90% of businesses in the accommodation and food services (90.8%), arts, entertainment and recreation (90.3%), health care and social assistance (87.0%) and educational services (86.7%) sectors reported being negatively impacted by social distancing measures.
Businesses in the accommodation and food services (72.6%), arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7%) and retail trade (60.3%) sectors were most likely to report a decline in revenue greater than 20%.
Businesses in the accommodation and food services (88.7%), arts, entertainment and recreation (87.1%) and retail trade (72.5%) sectors were also most likely to be highly impacted by lower demand for their products or services.
44.6% of arts, entertainment and recreation organizations had to lay off staff because of the COVID-19 in March. Of these, 61.7% had to let go of 80% or more of their workforce (compared to 45.2% Canadian average).
37.1% of arts, entertainment and recreation organizations reduced staff hours or shifts (similar to 38.1% Canadian average).
12.9% introduced temporary cost-reduction measures (similar to 12.2% Canadian average).
Source : Statistics Canada. Table 33-10-0231-01 Staffing actions taken by businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, by business characteristics
An impossible balancing act
Stories shared by performing arts presenting organizations during CAPACOA’s weekly town halls converge with the above findings. They also paint a vivid picture of the struggle of both implementing cost reduction measures in the theatre and maintaining minimal operations while at the same time laying off staff:
“Because we are a non profit, charitable organization, we completely rely on rentals and ticket fees. We are struggling just to keep our theatre going through this so the board has made the difficult decision that we cannot risk any funds presenting anything ourselves.”Emily Martin, Showplace Performance Centre, Peterborough, Ontario
“We are only able to survive this without layoffs, and paying operating expenses because we have sustained, reliable, multi-year and multi-level operating support that covers our operations AND contributes towards programming. By cancelling our live events, and replacing programming with online activities, we might break even this year. However, I have no idea if our home venue will survive this.”Nicholas Beach, Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, Camrose, Alberta
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a daily avalanche of constantly-shifting news, concerns, updates, and government responses. Presenters, agents, and artists are all trying to grasp a new and rapidly-evolving reality. This is why CAPACOA, with support from Ontario Presents, has determined to document the changing state of the situation, as you report it to us during our online gatherings. We hope that our weekly Chronicles of a Pandemic and the Performing Arts will help those of us in the sector, and those looking to support it, to grasp our unique situation as it continues to evolve.