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February 26, 2021
Mass. Cultural Nonprofits Loss Set at $483M Due to COVID-19
Mass Cultural Council

November 10, 2020 — Massachusetts cultural nonprofits have lost $483.5 million in revenue due to cancellations, closures, and related policies stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and spent $116.8 million in reopening costs, according to survey results released yesterday by the Mass Cultural Council.

In total, 898 nonprofit and municipal cultural organizations across the state that have completed at least one of a number of surveys conducted by the Mass Cultural Council (MCC) since March “have been financially devastated by the pandemic,” the MCC said

Of the total loss, $379.5 million was due to total lost earned revenue and $104.0 million was due to total lost contributed revenue.

On average, Massachusetts cultural organizations are dealing with the loss of $538,440 each, MCC said.

The bulk of those losses occurred between March and July, as MCC last July estimated arts and culture nonprofits had lost $365.4 million lost in earned revenue and $59.5 million lost in contributed revenue, after 98% of those organizations canceled in-person programmatic activity and 79% canceled funding events/activities.

David T. Slatery, MCC's acting executive director, said, “Organizations within Massachusetts’ cultural sector were among the first to voluntarily close and will be the last to fully reopen because of COVID. Mass Cultural Council will continue to collect and share impact data with policymakers in an effort to secure necessary recovery and relief assistance.”

Last July, Slatery said, “Cultural nonprofits are more at risk than other industries because of their operation and programming models.”

Sixty-two percent of the organizations have made the decision or plan to soon lay off, furlough, or reduce the hours and/or wages of their employees,” MCC noted.

Of the $116.8 million incurred by Massachusetts nonprofits for reopening costs, $106.3 million was spent to deploy non-capital COVID reopening strategies to reengage with the public and $10.5 million was spent for capital improvement costs necessary to reopen facilities and reengage with the public safely

Cultural organizations identified various non-capital COVID reopening strategies, including:

  • Instituting operational changes (training and allowing staff to work remotely)
  • Constructing temporary protective barriers for staff and the public
  • Providing dedicated equipment such as computers and phones for staff
  • Providing hand sanitizer and/or hand washing stations
  • Providing masks and/or other protective equipment
  • Increasing facility cleaning services
  • Hiring additional staff related to COVID recovery
  • Shifting programming from indoor to outdoor or from in-person to virtual
  • Reducing occupancy for programming
  • Posting new health and safety signage and wayfinding
  • Changing or eliminating concessions
  • Renegotiating or amending union contracts that must be renegotiated or amended
  • Instituting other administrative and programmatic changes

On Oct. 26, Slatery said, “Pending necessary approvals on Beacon Hill, the Commonwealth stands poised to make a $69.3 million investment of new public funds into the cultural sector through Mass Cultural Council.”

That funding includes $31 million in new capital spending authorizations to support arts and culture and $10 million to support museums, theaters, and other cultural facilities through a “Cultural Facilities Operating Support Program.

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