SMU DataArts releases its newest report, Pandemic Priorities: Exploring unemployment and demographic characteristics of arts and culture workforces and artists across the U.S. For this analysis, researchers Daniel Fonner and Rebecca Roscoe examine data starting in January 2020 to establish a baseline of pre-pandemic employment characteristics and track the monthly progression through January 2022.
The findings lay bare inequities in how arts and cultural organizations retained workforces after the initial shock of the pandemic. By April of 2020, overall arts and culture unemployment rates spiked to nearly 30%, and BIPOC and disabled individuals were disproportionately affected.
These shifts in unemployment created workplaces where those who remained employed were overwhelmingly individuals identifying as White – even more so than in the national workforce overall. This data-driven evidence provides insight and opportunity to realign sector-wide priorities and public policy as arts and culture organizations rebuild stronger, more diverse, and more equitable workforces.