Wednesday, May 19, 2021

What the Pandemic Has Done to the Arts

There is a depressing, but thorough, article on the new (June) issue of Harper's, that details the dire situation for artists (usually musicians and performers, but also writers) before the pandemic hit and now that things seem to be lifting. It's worth taking the time to read it, for everyone should see these trends and what they portend for the future.

Here's an early paragraph: 

Still, I don’t think most of us appreciate just how bad things are. The crisis goes well beyond the performing arts. Surveys published last summer found that 90 percent of independent music venues were in danger of closing for good, but so were a third of museums. In a survey by the Music Workers Alliance, 71 percent of musicians and DJs reported a loss of income of at least 75 percent, and in another, by the Authors Guild, 60 percent of respondents reported losing income, with an average drop of 43 percent. During the third quarter of 2020, unemployment averaged 27 percent among musicians, 52 percent among actors, and 55 percent among dancers. In the first two months of the pandemic, unemployment in the film and sound-recording industries reached 31 percent. Meanwhile, as of September, gallery sales of modern and contemporary art were down by 36 percent. What has been happening across the arts is not a recession. It is not even a depression. It is a catastrophe.

Read the full article here. The article is by William Deresiewicz, whose equally insightful (and depressing) book, The Death of the Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech (2020), came out last summer.  

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