Mass. Cultural Nonprofits Lost $192M in Pandemic’s 2nd Year
Mass Cultural Council

April 29, 2022 — Nearly 300 nonprofit cultural organizations across Massachusetts lost $192.7 million during the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, with 90% of those losses stemming from earned revenue that never materialized, according to a report issued this week by the Mass Cultural Council.

Although he described the losses as “devastating,” Michael J. Bobbitt, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council (MCC), a state agency that advocates for the arts and distributes grants, said MCC anticipates administering “a historic level of state funding in grants supporting arts and culture in every community” during the coming fiscal year.

These organizations also identified almost $19.3 million in costs experienced over the past year that were necessary to reopen, remain open, or attract patrons, including capital expenses like HVAC improvements, air purifiers, and seating changes; non-capital expenses, such as cleaning and sanitation, signage, supplies; and staff training.

Estimates were based on input from 281 organizations, covered the 12-month period ending Feb. 28, 2022.

In addition, 51% of survey respondents with employees reported that they laid off, furloughed, or reduced the hours and/or wages of their employees in the past year – impacting 3,504 cultural sector employees.

“It’s clear that while cultural organizations have reopened, audiences have yet to return in large enough numbers for the hosts to rely upon earned revenue to support their work or achieve revenue goals,” said Bobbitt. “Mass Cultural Council’s grant programs and services offer relief and assistance, but the need is always greater than our available resources.”

Between March 2020 and March 2022, 3,048 creative individuals reported 74,152 lost or cancelled gigs/jobs and $32 million in lost personal income, an average loss of 24 gigs/jobs and $10,478 per person in the past two years.

MCC said the Massachusetts cultural sector may receive a record level of state funding in FY23, which begins on July 1.

In the current fiscal year (FY22), Mass Cultural Council received $21,375,000 in state funding, the largest state appropriation since the 1980s.

MCC is also charged with granting $60.1 million in one-time state pandemic recovery funds to artists and cultural organizations. Draft program guidelines are expected to be approved in May, with applications available soon thereafter.