Lost $77 million and laid off nearly 700: How the pandemic hurt San Diego's arts organizations

Lost $77 million and laid off nearly 700: How the pandemic hurt San Diego’s arts organizations | Pro Club Bd

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly damaged San Diego’s arts and culture organizations over the past year, costing them more than $77 million in revenue and donations, reducing their economic impact by 47 percent, and causing nearly 700 layoffs and the loss of freelancers contracts caused.

But such organizations fared better than 2020, when they lost $96 million and 95 percent of them said they lost money — compared to just 68 percent in 2021. And more than 34 percent of organizations had lost money entirely by the end of last year reopened. compared to just 10 percent at the end of 2020.

Before the pandemic, San Diego’s creative industries, which includes these arts and cultural organizations, generated an annual economic output of $11 billion and included 100,000 workers and freelance contractors.

A new report from the University of San Diego Nonprofit Institute seeks to determine the impact of the pandemic on local arts organizations. Without the federal government’s relief, the damage to the city’s creative industries would have been much worse.

Arts and cultural organizations, which also receive city funding, received an average of about $80,000 in disaster loans for economic damage in 2020 and again in 2021.

They also received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, averaging $288,000 in 2020 and an average of $372,000 in 2021, and from the Small Business and Nonprofit Loan Program, an average of $129,000 in 2020 and an average of $100,000 in 2021.

But San Diego’s arts organizations haven’t gotten as much help as their counterparts in other comparable cities, where the federal government’s relief during the pandemic has been complemented by robust philanthropy, said Jonathon Glus, executive director of the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.

Arts organizations in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Houston benefited from coordinated philanthropic efforts that began when it became clear that the pandemic would cause many venues to remain closed or partially closed for many months. Big foundations have pooled funds to raise $37 million in Los Angeles, Glus said.

“We haven’t seen that kind of collective impact here in San Diego,” Glus said.

Philanthropic giving to local arts and culture organizations decreased $17.2 million in 2020 and $14.6 million in 2021. City officials said donors prioritized social services and food banks in the early stages of the pandemic.

The city has also created some new programs to promote local artists and arts organizations.

SD Practice purchased 100 artworks to add to the city’s art collection of more than 800 works. San Diego was the only city in the country to buy art directly from artists during the pandemic, city officials said. The money came from a $500,000 donation from the estate of collector Thomas O. Rasmussen.

Park Social is a program that pays dozens of local artists and arts groups to fill 28 city parks with projects, art installations, interactive events and performances through November.

But the city’s annual funding for arts organizations was included in the budget for the March 30th.

Such cuts have a multiplier effect. Many foundations and state grants require matching funds, so many organizations lose such grants as their city funds shrink.

Funding for the arts group was reset to $11.4 million in the fiscal year budget that the City Council approved last month.

The city also recently revised how that $11.4 million was distributed. To promote equal opportunity in neighborhoods, the city is expanding eligibility for grants in a variety of ways, making the grant process more transparent, and relaxing audit requirements for small organizations.

The changes came after an analysis found low-income neighborhoods had received far less than Balboa Park, downtown and La Jolla.

City officials say they are confident the revised guidelines will expand the pool of those who receive city arts funding and strengthen the city’s creative industries by better encouraging the growth of young artists and arts organizations.

Councilor Raul Campillo said it was disappointing to see the extent of the recent damage to San Diego’s arts community, particularly the many artists and creatives who have permanently shifted to other types of work.

“The worst part is that entrepreneurs and artists are saying they have no plans to restart,” Campillo said.

Local officials should give arts and culture groups as high a priority as they do small businesses, Campillo said.

“I want to highlight that part of our economy in San Diego as much as we do our small business economy,” he said. “They are small businesses and we cannot exclude them from the conversation.”

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