Last week, Californians for the Arts kicked off a dual campaign to encourage residents to wear masks and to advocate for the creation of re-opening guidelines for the arts industry, similar to those for other businesses across the state (#ReStartArtsCA). Currently no such guidelines exist; they would be the base on which safe re-openings would need to be built. The heart of the campaign is to recognize the power of the arts and entertainment industry as an economic driver and as a necessary outlet to heal communities.
South Coast Repertory is one of more than 11,500 nonprofit organizations in California. The state’s arts and entertainment industry formed roughly 15.4% of all jobs in the state, pre-pandemic, with direct, indirect and induced workers paying nearly $13 billion to support the state general fund and local governments through property taxes, personal income and sales taxes. At the same time, the creative industries generated $650.3 billion output each year into California’s economy.
Think of the arts as small investments that deliver big returns. Pre-pandemic, they encouraged people to leave their homes to spend money in the community. Every visit to an arts event or venue generated $31.47 per person beyond the ticket cost because people spent on dining, retail, parking and even lodging. Those dollars provided vital income to local merchants, energized business and retail districts, and paid salaries and wages in non-arts sectors.
In the past nine months, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector has seen a 40.3% job loss rate, which ripples out to impact the state’s economic well-being. At SCR, we had to lay off more than 60% of our permanent and part-time staff.
According to a study by Americans for the Arts, 81% of Americans surveyed said the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world” and 72% believed that the arts “unify our communities regardless of age, race and ethnicity.” In these troubling times, we need the arts more than ever.
Artists can be thought of as second responders because, through their work, they help to rebuild lives and communities during crises by providing critical services. For example, arts programs are one of the most effective treatments for trauma, depression and anxiety including among our nation’s veterans. Arts and creativity reduce our susceptibility to stress-related diseases, and art therapies can help to forestall the onset of Alzheimer’s and promote lifelong brain health.
How You Can Help to #ReStartArtsCA Safely
While the state of California has issued re-opening guidelines for businesses such as restaurants, retail, gyms and other places, it has not created re-opening guidelines to help the arts plan for when it will be safe to again welcome the public to theatres, museums, concerts and more.
We join the Californians for the Arts in asking for state-issued guidelines that are reasonable and measured for the arts and entertainment industry to help us plan for safe reopening when the time is right. And we ask you to help spread this message and support us by:
- Letting your state legislator and the Governor know that you support the arts as a vital part of California’s economy
- Letting your state legislator and the Governor know that the arts need public support and an industry-specific reopening plan
How You Can Help SCR Directly
In these uncertain and challenging times, South Coast Repertory is working to connect with the community and spread joy through free online theatre offerings. In the spirit of the season, please consider a tax-deductible gift, in any amount, in support of what we are doing.