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.

Gross Domestic Product

  • Real culture GDP grew 0.6% during the first quarter of 2021. Real culture GDP is still 7.6% away from full recovery.
  • Real GDP for the live performance domain grew 3.7% during the first quarter of 2021. Real GDP for the live performance domain remains 62.9% away from full recovery.
Radar chart showing the distance to recovery by culture domain. Live performance (-63%), heritage and libraries (-27%), written and published works (-17%) and visual and applied arts (-4%) are the furthest away from recovery.
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. Calculations by CAPACOA.

Employment, National Culture Indicators

  • Culture jobs grew 0.1% during the first quarter of 2021, reaching 603,482 jobs. Culture jobs are still 11.0% away from their pre-COVID level (678,275 jobs in Q4 2019).
  • Within the culture sector, the live performance domain is the hardest hit. Employment in the live performance domain is still 46.7% away from its pre-COVID level.
Bar chart showing a sharp drop in the second quarter of 2020 and hardly recovery afterwards. Employment in the first quarter of 2021 is 46.7% lower than before the COVID pandemic.
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. Calculations and chart by CAPACOA.

Employment, Labour Force Survey

  • 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.
  • As of March 2021, pre-COVID comparison with the same month in the previous year is no longer possible. For more recent employment statistics, please refer to the National Culture Indicators.

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

Business conditions

  • Over two-fifth (42.2%) of businesses in arts, entertainment and recreation expect obstacles with attracting new or returning customers over the next three months. This is by far the largest expected obstacle, along with fluctuations in consumer demand (33.8%).
  • Other significant obstacles for businesses in arts, entertainment and recreation include:
    • Rising cost of inputs (32.1%);
    • Government regulations (30.1%);
    • Cost of insurance (27.6%); 
    • Maintaining sufficient cash flow or managing debt (24.4%); 
    • Travel restrictions and travel bans (24.3%);
    • Cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), additional cleaning or implementing distancing requirements (21.4%).
  • Businesses in accommodation and food services (34.5%), in arts, entertainment and recreation (33.7%), and in manufacturing (24.3%) were most likely to report that they could continue operating at their current level of revenue and expenditures for less than 12 months before considering laying off staff.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, third quarter 2021.

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.

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: August 30, 2021

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