Research > COVID Impact Statistics

COVID Impact Statistics

An empty theatre lit up with red lights
Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts lit up their venue in red as part of the #LightUpLive campaign

Here are a few reliable and meaningful indicators to keep track of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts sector.

Economic indicators from Statistics Canada

Gross Domestic Product

  • Nominal culture GDP increased 3.0% to $16.3 billion during the second quarter of 2022; it has been steadily rising since the third quarter of 2020.
  • Real culture GDP (taking inflation into account) is now 4.8% above its pre-pandemic level.
  • The real GDP for the live performance domain only increased 9.6% during the second quarter of 2022. Real GDP for the live performance domain remains 8.8% away from full recovery.
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Chart showing a sharp GDP drop for the live performance domain, from 100% in Q4 2019 to 52% in Q2 2020. GDP increases after Q2 2021 and reaches 92% in Q2 2022.
This image is available for reuse under CC-BY 4.0 license.

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain, real GDP (constant 2012 dollars), seasonally adjusted, released: 2022-10-11. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Employment, National Culture Indicators

  • Culture jobs grew 3.2% during the second quarter of 2022, reaching 692,986 jobs. Culture jobs are now only 2.1% above their pre-pandemic level.
  • Employment in the live performance domain increased for a fourth consecutive quarter in the second quarter of 2022, reaching 67,479 jobs. Employment in the live performance domain is now 8.9% away from its pre-COVID level.
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Bar chart with employment statistics among performing arts and festivals. There is a sharp drop in Q2 2020, and then regular increases starting in Q3 2021.
This image is available for reuse under CC-BY 4.0 license.

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0652-01 National culture and sport indicators by domain and sub-domain, jobs, seasonally adjusted, released: 2022-10-11. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Employment, Labour Force Survey

  • Employment among performing arts, spectator sports and related industries [NAICS 711] declined for a third consecutive month in January 2022. From 111,000 jobs in October 2021, the subsector was down to 98,700 jobs in January: an 11.1% decrease over three months.
  • In 2019, the annual employment average for Performing arts, spectator sports and related industries was 148,700. In 2020, it had decreased to 128,100. In 2021, it was down to 111,200 jobs.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, by selected industries, Canada, unadjusted for seasonality, released: 2022-02-04. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Revenue, Annual Survey of Service Industries

  • The operating revenue of promoters (presenters) of performing arts, sports and similar events [NAICS 7113] was $2.1 billion in 2020 – this is a 46.0% decline compared to 2019 (43.3%, from 2018). Their operating profit margin was -4.1%.

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 21-10-0169-01 Spectator sports, event promoters, artists and related industries, summary statistics, released: 2022-03-09. Calculations by CAPACOA.

  • The operating revenue of performing arts companies [NAICS 7111] was $1.8 billion in 2020 – this is a 30.7% decline compared to 2018. Their operating profit margin was 10.4% (1.1% among not-for-profit companies).

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 21-10-0182-01 Performing arts, summary statistics, released: 2022-01-24. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Additional statistics from the Performing Arts survey

Business conditions

  • Arts, entertainment and recreation businesses [NAICS 71] expect similar obstacles as other industries over the next three months. Obstacles related to inflation (53.5%), costs and labour are the main concerns, but they are slightly less prevalent among arts, entertainment and recreation businesses than in other industries (see the table below). 
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation businesses are considerably more likely than other industries to report obstacles in attracting new or returning customers (27.3% compared to 16.7%). This obstacle is nonetheless on a downward trend after a high of 41.9% during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Of all industries, arts, entertainment and recreation businesses were the most likely to be optimistic about their future outlook over the next 12 months (80.9%).

Business or organization obstacles over the next three months, third quarter of 2022

ObstacleAll industriesArts, entertainment and recreationPercentage point difference from all industries average
Rising inflation60.053.5-6.5
Rising cost of inputs47.138.6-8.5
Shortage of labour force37.134.8-2.3
Recruiting skilled employees38.733.2-5.5
Cost of insurance31.733.11.4
Attracting new or returning customers16.727.310.6
Transportation costs38.423.4-15.0
Retaining skilled employees30.922.7-8.2

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, third quarter 2022, released: 2022-08-30.

Other indicators from the federal government

Wage Subsidy Claims

  • The CEWS uptake has been significant among Arts, entertainment and recreation [NAICS 71] organizations with employees with an average 2.7% of the total CEWS distribution during the first six periods (from March 15th to August 29th, 2020). This is significantly higher than the relative weight of arts, entertainment and recreation employees compared to all industries (1.8%, based on Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours, Employment by industry, annual).
  • The total number of arts, entertainment and recreation employees [NAICS 71] supported by CEWS fluctuated between 63,000 and 84,600 during the first five periods. Compared to the total labour force of the sector, this represented a progressively declining ratio from 21.6% in the first period to 16.7% in the fifth period. For the sixth period (August 2 to August 29), the ratio of the labour force covered by CEWS fell to 8.7%.

Source: Canada Revenue Agency, Approved Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) claims by period and industry sector, Canada. Custom tables, calculations and analysis by CAPACOA.

Attendance and participation statistics

Arts Response Tracking Survey

Business / Arts, the National Arts Centre and Nanos Research have conducted a series of surveys of Canadians’ attitudes on returning to indoor and outdoor arts and culture events. 

WolfBrown COVID-19 Audience Outlook Monitor – Ontario

This audience survey is conducted by WolfBrown on behalf of the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. 80 organizations have surveyed their patrons as part of this initiative.

The New Experience Economy

Stone Olafson, in collaboration with community partners, has been conducting a longitudinal study with Alberta audiences.

Soundbites from industry sources

  • Arts and culture workers anticipate an 18-month recovery period and as many as one in three (35%) are uncertain about their future in the arts.
  • Arts and culture organizations are much more optimistic about the ability of their own organization to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 (67%) than they are about the ability of the industry as a whole to recover (42%).
  • Over three times as many individuals AND organizations report very high or high levels of stress and anxiety today (76% and 79%, respectively) as compared to before COVID-19 (26% and 25%).

Source: Prairie Research Associates, National Arts and Culture Impact Survey, January 2020. Survey of individuals and organizations conducted in November 2020; n=2,001.

  • Only 6% of “arts, recreation & information” businesses reported normal or better revenues than usual in November.
  • “Arts, recreation & information” businesses are most likely to agree that there are sector-specific challenges that are not currently being addressed by their provincial government. 50% strongly agree and 20% somewhat agree.
  • Owners of “arts, recreation & information” businesses are the most likely to report psychological health issues: 10 percentage points above the 48% average.

Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, COVID-19: State of Small Business, November 2020. Survey of CFIB members started November 20, 2020; n=4,127.

  • 2/3 (65%) of festivals and events will not return next year or are uncertain whether they can return if there is not a bailout program created to wipeout deficits created by the impacts of COVID-19.
  • 2/3 of festivals and events have had to lay off staff (48%) or have reduced employee hours (28%). There was an average 50% reduction in the workforce of those organizations who have had to lay off staff.

Source: Festivals and Major Events Canada, COVID-19: Survey of Festivals and events in Canada, August 2020.

About this web page

This webpage is built with the goal of making it easier for everyone in the performing arts sector to access the latest and most relevant economic indicators during the time of COVID-19. 

Most statistics provided on this page are the result of custom calculations and, as such, can be subject to occasional errors. Users are encouraged to refer to the sources, to read methodological notes, and to run their own calculations.

More statistics can be accessed on Hill Strategies’ Arts Research Monitor, via the Culture Satellite Account or on CAPACOA’s page of performing arts statistics.

Questions or comments about these statistics can be addressed to Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development at CAPACOA.

This webpage is maintained and updated collaboratively by CAPACOA, Mass Culture, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, the Cultural Human Resources Council and the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture in support of the important work done by Statistics Canada, the Cultural Statistics Strategy Consortium, and partner arts service organizations.

Last updated: September 26, 2022

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