Dallas Arts & Culture COVID-19 Losses Top $33 Million June 30, 2020

Community Survey Shows 649 Jobs Impacted
Both Numbers Expected to Climb, Cultural Ecosystem at Risk

Media Contact: Chris Heinbaugh, 214.507.1460

DALLAS – The nonprofit Dallas arts and cultural community suffered $33.65 million in financial losses in the first 2 ½ months of COVID-19 related closures, including layoffs or furloughs of 649 artists and staff, according to a survey of the city’s diverse arts organizations. The study also strongly signals these financial losses are rising and, with the expiration of federal small business support such as Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, more job losses are ahead.

The survey was conducted earlier this month by a trio of Dallas arts advocacy organizations: The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), Dallas Arts District (DAD) and Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC). The 57 Dallas-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that participated reflect a diverse range of size, age and genre serving every corner of the city. Survey questions covered the period from March 13 – when almost all cultural facilities were closed – through May 31, 2020. According to responses, the forced closures caused:

  • performing arts organizations to cancel or defer 804 performances
  • visual arts organizations to close, collectively, for 747 attendance days
  • all groups together to cancel or reschedule 2,609 workshops, classes and programs

Collectively, the groups projected their lost or deferred attendance numbers of 1.3M for the 2 ½ month period.

“These survey findings reflect the significant damage the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the arts community in Dallas,” said Terry D. Loftis, Carlson President and Executive Director of TACA. “When we fielded the survey, we anticipated the results would bring that impact to light, but these finds are truly staggering. The Dallas creative community has been impacted in ways we might never have anticipated, and without private and civic investment, we’ll be challenged to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic, affecting our community as a whole, artists, arts organizations, and audiences for the long term.”

During this period, many groups were able to retain staff due to CARES Act funding through the Small Business Administration loans. Of the 57 groups, 40 organizations applied for SBA support.

  • 40 cultural groups received PPP loans, many of which are forgivable.
  • 12 organizations also applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
  • A handful of applications were awaiting funding or approval
  • 16 small organizations did not apply for SBA support, 11 saying they were not eligible.

To achieve forgiveness of these loans, recipients were required to keep a number of staff employed at certain pay levels for a period of time, usually 8 weeks. Most of those loans begin expiring this month. This is already causing some groups to implement new furloughs or layoffs. Some are implementing salary reductions for the staff that remain.

The impact is threatening local arts organizations of every size, age and genre, many of which operate on a shoestring.

  • They rely heavily on ticket and program revenue, fees from classes, and ancillary revenue that comes with attendance, including food, beverage and alcohol sales, concessions, gift shops, parking, ticket fees, sponsorships and more. All of these dried up.
  • The groups face refund requests from patrons, further depleting cash – though some patrons are willing to take a credit for their ticket or donate the value back
    to the nonprofit organization.
  • Included in the losses are $2.36M in increased and unanticipated expenses, including the COVID-19 costs of making offices and cultural facilities safe for patrons, staff and artists before they reopen.

Adding to the levels of concern: severe projected budget cuts to the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture as officials grapple with millions of dollars in lost revenue due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

“The arts generate revenue, so these closures have ripple effects across the city’s economy,” said Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District. “We not only lose the direct spending of these groups and that of the employees laid off, but also the revenue tied to restaurants, lodging, tourism, retail, transportation and more, all of that is gone.”

The nonprofit arts and culture sector in Dallas alone was generating an annual economic impact of $891 million supporting 13,000 jobs, according to a 2015 study1. The sector drives tourism, boosts property values and helps attract corporate relocations and talent. It also generates $45 million in local tax revenue, the loss of which would have a negative impact on the City of Dallas budget.

Since the survey was conducted, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued guidelines for reopening for both museums and fine arts performance venues, albeit at reduced capacity numbers.

While carefully watching local pandemic numbers, a number of Dallas museums are targeting reopening in the July-August time frame. However, most performing arts venues do not anticipate opening until late in the summer or early fall, with some moving their entire seasons into 2021. Adding to the uncertainty are rising North Texas COVID-19 hospitalization numbers which could prompt new restrictions or closures.

“The arts sector is made up of small businesses and an important part of our city’s economy,” said Joanna St. Angelo, president of the DACAC, a political advocacy group representing a wide range of the city’s cultural organizations. “We felt nobody had a handle on what was happening to our arts community. This study gave us a pulse rate, and right now the prognosis isn’t good.”

TACA, DAD and DACAC plan to continue the survey every few months to mark changes, including additional financial and job losses.


Respondent Budget Category
Small Organizations (65%)

  • Under $249,999 (15)
  • $250,000 – $499,999 (12)
  • $500,000 – $999,999 (10)

Large Organizations (35%)

  • $1,000,000 – $4,999,999 (8)
  • Above $5,000,000 (12)

Financial Losses
The survey was conducted during the second and third week in May so the losses are both realized and projected. By that point in time, most organizations had already canceled of deferred programs.

  • $26,243,127 Projected value of reported lost/deferred admissions revenue
  • $5,047,419 Projected value of lost/deferred non-admissions revenue (food & beverage, retail, parking, ancillaries, etc.)
  • $2,362,691 Projected value of increased/unanticipated expenses
  • $33,653,237 Total projected financial impact for the period including lost/deferred revenue and unanticipated expenses

Non-performance based institutions appear more optimistic about re-opening than
performance based groups.

  • 67% of non-performance based respondents have set a date for reopening
  • 44% of performance based respondents have set a date for re-opening

Most of the impact through May 31 has been to part-time positions, with forgivable PPP loans used to retain full-time staff. As those loans expire, we anticipate full-time job losses to rise steeply.

Part-Time Employees

  • 1,394 Average number of PTEs annually employed across 57 organizations
  • 567 Number of PTEs laid off or furloughed in this period (41%)

Full-Time Employees

  • 1,140 Average number of FTEs annually employed across 57 organizations
  • 82 Number of FTEs laid off or furloughed in this period

Respondent Organizations

Academy of Bangla Arts and Culture
African American Repertory Theater
Art House Dallas
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Avant Chamber Ballet
Beckles Dancing Company
Big Thought
Bishop Arts Theatre Center
Blue Candlelight Music Series
Cara Mía Theatre Co.
Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas
Creative Arts Center of Dallas
Crow Museum of Asian Art at the University of Texas at Dallas
Cry Havoc Theater Company
Dallas Arts District Foundation
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Dallas Center for Photography
Dallas Chamber Symphony
Dallas Children’s Theater
Dallas Heritage Village
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Summer Musicals
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Dallas Theater Center
Deep Vellum
Echo Theatre
Fine Arts Chamber Players
Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation
Lone Star Circus Arts Center
Lone Star Wind Orchestra
Lumedia Musicworks
Nasher Sculpture Center
Olimpaxqui Ballet Co, Inc.
Orchestra of New Spain
Orpheus Chamber Singers
Over the Bridge Arts
Prism Movement Theater
Sammons Center for the Arts
Second Thought Theatre
Shakespeare Dallas
Soul Rep Theatre Company
Teatro Dallas
Texas Ballet Theater
The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
The Cedars Union
The Dallas Opera
The Mexico Institute
The Perot Museum of Nature & Science
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas
Theatre Three
Turtle Creek Chorale
Uptown Players
USA Film Festival

1 2015 Arts and Economic Prosperity Study, Americans for the Arts, city of Dallas

About TACA
TACA – The Arts Community Alliance – supports excellence and impact in the arts through grant-making, capacity building, and thought leadership. TACA envisions an innovative, inclusive, sustainable cultural sector recognized for its essential contribution to a vibrant, prosperous community. Since its founding in 1967, TACA has worked to establish North Texas’ cultural community as one of the strongest in the nation. TACA’s growing investment in the arts translates to new premieres and productions, impactful residencies and community initiatives, and more opportunities for artists and audiences to connect – all striving to make Dallas a dynamic city and a great place to live and work. For more information about TACA, call 214-520-3930 or visit taca-arts.org. Connect with TACA on Facebook at facebook.com/tacadallas, Twitter at @TACADallas or on Instagram at @TACADallas.

The Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC) is a grassroots member-supported organization representing a wide range local arts and cultural organizations of all sizes, budgets, genres and locations. Established in 2007 as a Texas nonprofit corporation, this coalition advocates on issues of importance to the arts community with its primary goal: to protect and grow city and state funding that supports the area’s diverse cultural ecosystem. DACAC promotes dialogue, understanding and cooperation among the artists, patrons and organizations in the community; provides education and training to small arts groups; and mobilize members on strategies that support the cultural community as a whole. www.dallasneedsthearts.com

About Dallas Arts District
Dallas Arts District serves as the primary steward and representative for the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. The District’s purpose is to enhance the value of the city’s creative and economic life by engaging artistic, educational and commercial neighbors through excellent design, practices, and programs. That work transforms the neighborhood into a dynamic and vibrant destination for locals and visitors, powered by the imagination of regional and international artists, with integrated and exemplary artistic, residential, cultural and commercial life. Experience Dallas Arts District’s signature Block Party Series in April and June
attracting more than 60,000 visitors from 144 zip codes. Dallas Arts District Foundation has awarded 450 grants totaling $1.2 million to local arts organizations to produce innovative programming in the neighborhood. For more information, visit dallasartsdistrict.org.

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