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Reports Paint Grim Picture of California’s Arts Economy and Suggest Ways Out

Reports Paint Grim Picture of California’s Arts Economy and Suggest Ways Out


Reports Paint Grim Picture of California’s Arts Economy and Suggest Ways Out

The 2020 Otis Report on the Creative Economy—this year’s iteration of the report released annually by the Los Angeles–based Otis College of Art and Design and measuring the health of the California economy across five creative fields—showed significant arts-related job losses across the state but offered achievable recommendations for rebuilding the sector. The fields under consideration include fine arts and performing arts, architecture, entertainment, and digital media, creative products, and fashion.According to the report, 175,000 arts-related jobs—nearly sixteen thousand of them in the fine-arts and performance sector—were lost across the state between February and December 2020, representing 13.3 percent of such jobs. Los Angeles County sustained the heaviest losses as 110,000 creative jobs vanished, representing a 23.5 percent drop. In terms of creative economic output, the state took a $140 billion hit.Released concurrently with the Otis report, two Covid-related surveys commissioned by advocacy group Californians for the Arts and taking place between October 6 and November 20, 2020, focused on nonprofit arts and cultural organizations; creative businesses whose income is generated by ticket sales, contract work, and sales of artwork; and individual arts workers. Of the 607 organizations surveyed, 72 percent laid off staff and 50 percent stopped offering work to contractors. Of the one thousand individual workers surveyed, 88 percent reported a loss of income or of other arts-related revenue. Institutional racism remained in full effect: The New York Times reported that 100 percent of workers identifying as Black or African American lost income, compared to just 12 percent across all other ethnic groups.Among the Otis report’s recommendations toward the rebuilding of the creative economy were the continuation and improvement of artist aid programs; uniform statewide reopening guidelines accounting for levels of risk related to various activities and flexible in that regard; and fee waivers aimed at avoiding regulatory obstacles to reopening.


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