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

Most recent indicators from Statistics Canada

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

Employment, January 2021

  • Employment fell for the fifth consecutive month in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] in January, this time by 9.6%. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector is now 37.8% lower than last year at the same period
  • Total actual hours worked in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector went down 5.8% in January. They were 39.7% lower than a year ago for the same period.
  • The arts, entertainment and recreation sector remains the furthest away from recovery, on both indicators.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, by selected industries, Canada, unadjusted for seasonality, January 2021. Custom tables and Calculations by CAPACOA.

Employment, 2020 compared to 2019

  • Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] fell from 450,500 in 2019 to 336,100 jobs in 2020. That’s a 25.4% drop.
  • Total actual hours worked in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector declined 36.6% in 2020, compared to 2019. Within the sector, performing arts companies [7111] experienced the largest drop in total actual hours worked in 2020: -60.7%.
  • The arts, entertainment and recreation sector was the hardest hit in 2020, on both indicators.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, by selected industries, Canada, annual. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP for the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] experienced a 2.6% decrease in November 2020. This was the sector’s first decrease since May. 
  • The GDP of the arts, entertainment and recreation sector in November 2020 was 48.2% away from its February level. In comparison, the accommodation and food services [NAICS 72] sector was 33.1% lower than in February.
  • Within the arts sector, the “performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, and heritage institutions” cluster [NAICS 711, 712] was the furthest away from recovery in November 2020. At $2.9 billion, it was 61.2% lower than in February 2020. No other industry group experienced a larger decrease, besides air transportation [NAICS 481] (-83.2%).
Bar chart highlighting a $4,6 billion GDP drop (-61%) in the performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, and heritage institutions between February and November 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0434-01 Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry, monthly (x 1,000,000). Calculations by CAPACOA.

Business conditions

  • Four in ten (39,3%) businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] reported that their revenues from August 2020 were down 50% or more, year over year.
  • Approximately one-third of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation NAICS 71 and accommodation and food services NAICS 72 sectors reported that they could continue to operate at their current level of revenue and expenditures for less than six months before considering further staffing actions, closure or bankruptcy.
  • 4.7% of arts, entertainment and recreation [NAICS 71] organizations plan to close the organization in the next year.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, August 2020.

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). 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.

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.

  • Arts organizations that operate a facility are disproportionately impacted by the loss of revenue from ticket sales and rentals (45%) compared with organizations without a facility (24%). Only 13% of organizations with a facility believe they can survive more than 9 months in “maintenance” mode, compared to 38% for organizations without a facility.

Source: Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, COVID-19 Impact Survey: British Columbia Arts and Culture Sector, June 2020. Data collected between March 12 and May 20, 2020; n=866.

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: February 17, 2021

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