SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Data & Insights on the Impact of COVID-19 on Arts & Culture

The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised countless questions about our future. It is our mission to empower arts and cultural leaders with as much high-quality data and evidence-based resources as possible to not only weather through this storm but to develop sustainable action for a thriving future. 

SMU DataArts has created a reliable, robust dataset that integrates data on over 40,000 arts organizations with arts purchase data, public funding data, and community data to help us answer questions that are top-of-mind for arts and cultural professionals. Our research team is constantly working on studies that dive into trends and findings that matter most to you.

COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard

A free dashboard that provides near real-time intelligence and advice to help arts leaders see results as they respond to the pandemic. This project was developed by TRG Arts, SMU DataArts' longtime partner in advancing the arts and culture sector, in collaboration with U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven. 

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When We Re-Open, Whom Will We Gather?

Released April 29, 2021

As performing arts organizations in the United States emerge from pandemic closures, SMU DataArts has released a new study to help these institutions address the question “When we re-open, whom will we gather?” and to take advantage of this time of reconnection to increase audience diversity. The study examines pre-pandemic audience diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) along the dimensions of race and income at 24 large performing arts organizations in the United States to provide a baseline of past trends and a roadmap for the future.

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Studying Early Pandemic Data: Fundraising in a Time of Crisis

Posted May 6, 2022

Two years after the turbulence brought about by the pandemic, SMU DataArts has new data that reveals the actual financial impacts of a year that we never could have anticipated.

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People are Opting to Stay Home and the Effect on Arts Ticket Sales is Clear

Posted February 11, 2022

In this update, we reexamine the impact of COVID on performing arts ticket sales for 100 organizations, using purchase data for January 1, 2018-December 31, 2021.  The analysis updates two earlier sets of results, one of which examined ticket sales data through June 30, 2021 and another that examined ticket sales data through September 30, 2021.  At that time, we estimated the total losses in the nonprofit performing arts industry attributable to the pandemic through December 2021 likely exceed $3.2B.  That estimate is unchanged by the current results.  We also concluded that lagging vaccination rates cost this industry around $10M per month for every unrealized percentage point in vaccination rates.  That result no longer holds, as waning vaccine efficacy and soaring infection rates and breakthrough cases have shifted demand patterns among the vaccinated.

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When Will Arts Attendance Return? Data Shows Encouraging Signs

Posted November 12, 2021

While taking into account the uncertainties of the pandemic and public response to vaccinations, leading researchers at SMU DataArts map out three plausible scenarios for performing arts leaders to consider while trying to calculate the ongoing impact of low vaccination rates and resurging COVID-19 cases.

By creating algorithms trained on 11.7 million ticket sales from January 2018–June 2021, these simulations outline a realistic best-case scenario, a realistic worst-case scenario, and an idealized best-case scenario as well as recommendations as we quickly approach the end of the year.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Employment: Arts and Culture Sector

Posted October 14, 2021

For virtually every month since January 2020, white respondents recognized unemployment rates roughly 1% below the sector unemployment rate. Black, Indigenous, Asian, and multiracial respondents collectively averaged unemployment rates about 6% higher than the sector overall, with greater spikes in the first four months of the pandemic.

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The State of the Sector Webinar Series with Dr. Zannie Voss

Series began March 9, 2021

Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the arts and cultural sector nationwide. It's estimated that 90% of cultural organizations canceled at least some of their programming and as a result, ticket revenue and donations have seen drastic changes. 

In this series of webinars, Dr. Zannie Voss takes a deep-dive look into the arts and cultural landscape of several regions from pre-pandemic into the early impact of COVID-19. These data-driven findings can be used to better understand and tell the story of how your organization fared throughout the crisis and help to inform funders where support may be needed now. 

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Buffering Against Uncertainty: Working Capital and the Resiliency of BIPOC-serving Organizations

Released March 18, 2021

At the end of 2019, the majority of cultural organizations hovered at precariously low levels of working capital with only about one and a half months of ready access to flexible cash. Faced with what we now know to be a year plus of uncertainty, the adequacy of working capital became critical to survival.

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The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations: A Spotlight on Organizations of Color

Released March 10, 2021

This report, published in partnership with The Wallace Foundation, is based on research conducted during August and September of 2020 investigating the elements of successful strategies employed by high-performing arts organizations that primarily serve communities of color.

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The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations

Released August 13, 2020

This report, published in partnership with The Wallace Foundation, studies 10 organizations with a track record of high performance and 10 who engineered a turnaround from low to high performance.

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PPP Data on Preserving Jobs in the Arts & Culture Sector

Posted July 16, 2020

In parsing the data, limitations on identifying characteristics such as organization names and addresses associated with loans under $150,000 and the omission of specific loan amounts given to organizations receiving loans over $150,000 prevent a perfect accounting of distributions when compared to all nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the United States. However, there is enough information to look at PPP recipients in general across the sector.

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Arts & Cultural Organizations: In It for the Long Haul

Released May 18, 2020

Aimed at helping arts and cultural organizations consider key questions and variables as they plan for reopening and a post-COVID-19 future, this report estimates the pandemic’s effect on the nonprofit arts sector and identifies three critical propositions and four prompting questions for consideration.

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