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 in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] fell 10.1% in October 2020. 
  • Total actual hours worked in the arts, entertainment and recreation went down 11.1%. They were 28.4% lower than a year ago for the same period.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, by selected industries, Canada, unadjusted for seasonality, October 2020. Calculations by CAPACOA.

  • In August, employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] was 36.4% (-114,600) below its February level.
  • Within the sector, promoters (presenters) of performing arts, sports and similar events [7113] (-58.2%; -15,900) as well as performing arts companies [7111] (-49.1%; -8,800) were the furthest from their pre-COVID employment levels.

Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment Payroll and Hours, Canada, seasonally adjusted, August 2020.

Gross Domestic Product

  • GDP for the Arts, entertainment and recreation sector [NAICS 71] went up 12.8% in August 2020. This was the largest monthly GDP growth of all industries.
  • In spite of this fourth consecutive GDP growth, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector remains the furthest away from recovery. The GDP of the sector in August 2020 was 52.1% lower than in August 2019. In comparison, the accommodation and food services [NAICS 72] sector was 33.0% lower than a year ago.

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 19th). This is twice as much as 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

  • 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, Recreation & Information” businesses face the highest risk of closing as a result of COVID-19. As many as 30% (10,800) were actively considering permanent closure in July.

Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, How many Canadian Businesses are at risk of permanently closing due to COVID-19?, July 2020. Survey of CFIB members started July 17, 2020; n=5,269.

  • 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: November 12, 2020

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