Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)

Programs + Initiatives

COVID-19 B.C. Arts & Culture Sector Impact Survey

Fall 2021 Sector Impact Report

Fall 2021 COVID-19 B.C. Arts & Culture Sector Impact Report

This November, GVPTA and arts service organizations across the province invited individual artists, arts workers, and arts, culture and heritage organizations throughout British Columbia and across all disciplines to help convey a better understanding of where they are at now by completing the Fall 2021 edition of the COVID-19 B.C. Arts & Culture Impact Survey. 


On November 30, GVPTA has released its fourth summary report on COVID-19's profound impact on the arts and culture sector across the province, based on survey responses collected between November 9 and 25, 2021.

As part of its data collection strategy, GVPTA has issued various iterations of the survey since March 2020, each evolving to understand the current and changing realities. The initial summary report was shared in June 2020, followed by others in December 2020 and April 2021. Read the backgrounder and past reports on this page below.


The survey was distributed through a network of arts service organizations, funders, and stakeholders across the province, social media, newsletters, and directly to previous survey respondents.


Aggregate data is shared with funders, researchers, and arts service organizations for regional, provincial, and national reporting and analysis.


Please note that, as with any survey, the data is only partial representation of the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts and culture sector in British Columbia.


View the highlights below of the Fall 2021 GVPTA COVID-19 Impact Report - B.C. Arts & Culture Sector, and click the red button below to download the PDF report.

Download the Fall 2021 Report (PDF)

Highlights from the Fall 2021 Report

About the Respondents

  • Of the 373 respondents, 55% were individual artists & arts workers, and the other 45% responded on behalf of an organization. Of the 205 responding as individuals, 51% identified solely as an artist, 17% solely an arts worker, and 32% as both artist and arts worker.

  • 55% of the respondents were based in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 15% from each Island Health and Fraser Health12% based in Interior Health region, and 3% from Northern Health.

  • The top five disciplines represented by respondents included: Theatre (49%), Music (29%), Visual Arts (27%), Community Arts (27%), and Multidisciplinary (20%)

Individuals

  • One-third (36%) of individuals are working more in the arts now compared to six months ago, however more than half (56%) still work less than pre-pandemic levels. 9% are not working in the sector.
  • If individuals had access to an unrestricted grant today, the top three priority areas selected by the most respondents include the costs to create or develop their art, professional development for their work in the arts, and to cover fixed costs (eg. rent, hydro).
  • While artists have a consistent level of expectation working in the sector over the next two years, we see a dramatic decline in confidence with arts workers, which may result in a labour shortage.
  • While increased stress or shortage of energy and general uncertainty continue to be the highest reported obstacles recently experienced by individuals (similar to the April report), when considering anticipated obstacles over the coming months, increased stress and maintaining sufficient cash flow are reported most frequently.
  • Over three-quarters of individual respondents report vaccinations as a condition to help them feel safe in most work spaces. The nature of the work and space affects which other conditions (eg. masking, distancing) they would prioritize.

Organizations
  • More than one-quarter of organizations shared their financial position as being somewhat or very unstable.
  • 6% of organizations that operate a facility indicate possible closure within 12 months. 2% have already closed or are in the process.
  • Compared to the previous four months, organizations expect a net increase in the number of staff, artists, contracts, and hours worked  over thenext four months.

  • The most selected obstacles recently faced by organizations include: reduced sales income due to fewer patrons (76%), government regulations related to public health orders  (76%); and uncertainty of government response to plan effectively (74%). 

  • Although planning timelines were dramatically shortened due to the pandemic (45% planned at least one year in advance pre-pandemic, which dropped to 10% within the last year), 29% of organizations say they will have a longer planning cycle in 2023 compared to 2019. 

  • If guidelines allow, 34% of respondents expect to return to 100% capacity by February. 38% don’t expect to return to full capacity until spring/summer of 2022. And 27% say it’s too difficult to predict. 

  • If organizations had access to an unrestricted grant today, the top priority for 59% of respondents is to invest in creating and presenting arts programming.

Extended Health Benefits

  • 43% of organizations offer extended health benefits to at least some of their employees, and 51% offer paid sick days.
  • 57% of individuals have access to an extended health benefits plan; less than two-thirds indicate having access to mental health support.

Vaccines

  • The majority (75%-85%) of respondents said the BC Proof of Vaccine program and BC Vaccine Card is positive for arts organizations, individuals, and the sector.
  • 60% of organizations have an internal testing or vaccine policy in place, and of those, 84% say it’s had a positive impact on their organization.

Stress, Anxiety, and Optimism

  • Stress and anxiety levels for both organizations and individuals continue to be high, and have had no significant change compared to the April report.
  • Overall optimism that the arts and culture sector will recover from the impact of COVID-19 has increased compared to the April 2021 report, with nearly all organizations (97%) and the majority of individuals (84%) expressing confidence in recovery.
  • Compared to April, self optimism about recovery from the effects of the pandemic by organizations declined slightly and stayed the same for individuals.

Fall 2021 Summary Report
Download the Fall 2021 Report (PDF)
Questions and Further Analysis 

If you have questions about the report, or are seeking other segmented information, by discipline, region, demographics, or others, contact Executive Director Kenji Maeda with your specific request.

Past Impact Survey Reports and Backgrounder

Impact Survey Reports and Backgrounder

Click to expand the sections below to read the Impact Survey backgrounder, past report summaries, and to download the reports in their entirety.

Survey Background
COVID-19 Impact Survey Report title shown with background of theatre seats
As part of a data collection strategy developed to gain a better understanding of the impact the pandemic has had on the arts and culture sector across the province, GVPTA developed a survey in March 2020. This survey was designed for all arts disciplines; artists; arts workers; arts, culture, and heritage organizations across B.C. 


Originally, we at GVPTA had released a survey exclusively for theatre organizations, but through feedback received from funders, colleagues in other arts disciplines, and discussions with our colleagues at BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and BC Museums Association, it made sense to expand the existing survey to be inclusive of all arts and culture organizations in British Columbia.


Initially, we measured financial, human resources, and other impacts based on decisions that have been made about your programming, activities, and operations. We also asked for demographic information in order to assess the impact based on different segments of our community. Subsequent iterations of the survey have evolved to address changing realities.

The survey is distributed through a network of arts service organizations, funders, and stakeholders across the province, through social media, newsletters, and directly to previous survey respondents.

Aggregate data is shared with funders, researchers, and arts service organizations for regional, provincial, and national reporting and analysis.

An initial report of results was shared in June 2020; subsequent survey iterations in December, April, and November 2021 evolved to address current and changing realities.

Please note that, as with any survey, the data is only partial representation of the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts and culture sector in British Columbia.

Read past reports below.

Spring 2021 Report

As part of a data collection strategy, GVPTA released two previous reports based on earlier iterations of the survey. The initial report was shared in June 2020, followed by another in December 2020. Survey iterations have evolved to address current and changing realities. Read the backgrounder and past reports on this page below.


The spring 2021 survey was completed by 551 unique respondents between April 6 and 22, 2021 and was distributed through a network of arts service organizations, funders, and stakeholders across the province, social media, newsletters, and directly to previous survey respondents.


Aggregate data is shared with funders, researchers, and arts service organizations for regional, provincial, and national reporting and analysis.


Please note that, as with any survey, the data is only partial representation of the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts and culture sector in British Columbia.


View the highlights below of the Spring 2021 GVPTA COVID-19 Impact Report - B.C. Arts & Culture Sector, and click the red button below to download the PDF report.

Download the Spring 2021 Report (PDF)

The Respondents:

  • Of the 551 respondents, 55% were individual artists & arts workers, and the other 45% responded on behalf of an organization. Of the 304 responding as individuals, 50% identified solely as an artist, 17% solely as an arts worker, and 33% as both artist and arts worker.
  • 59% of the respondents were based in Metro Vancouver, 19% from Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, and the remaining 22% from other areas of the province.
  • The top five disciplines of respondents included: Theatre (44%), Music (36%), Visual Arts (31%), Community Arts (29%), and Dance(24%).

All Respondents:
  • If individuals were offered unrestricted funds today, the priority categories selected by the most respondents were to cover fixed costs (rent, hydro, phone), costs to create or develop their art, and professional development toward their work in the arts. 
  • If organizations were offered unrestricted funds today, the priority category selected by the most respondents was to invest in the creation of arts and culture programming.
  • On average, a higher percentage of organization respondents (77%) feel well informed about sector and government updates, compared to those who responded as individuals (57%).
  • Organizations are slightly more optimistic about their own recovery now than in December, while individuals are much more optimistic.
  • Overall, both organizations and individuals are slightly more optimistic about B.C.’s arts and culture sector’s recovery today compared to responses in December
  • Individuals from underrepresented and marginalized communities saw a significant increase in optimism in the last 5 months compared to those who are not from those communities. 

Organizations
  • Across 204 organizations in B.C., approximately one in five senior staff and board members identify as Indigenous or racialized. Percentage varies greatly based on region.
  • Compared to the previous three month period, organizations expect a net increase in the number of staff, artist contracts, and hours worked over the next three months
  • Most organizations identified that they face multiple obstacles, including current government restrictions relating to public health orders (80%); and uncertainty of government response to plan effectively (69%). 
  • Compared to December, a higher percentage of organizations identified government regulations (+13%) and uncertainty of government response (+23%) as an obstacle, while financial constraints (-14%), lack of resources to adapt to the current reality (-13%), and inability to access space or equipment(-13%) saw a drop compared to December. 

Venue-Operating Organizations
  • Most venue-operating organizations (61%) would require 3 weeks to 2 months to plan their first in-person event, if indoor gatherings of up to 50 are permitted. 9% of respondents would require more than 50 attendees for their event to be viable.
  • A higher percentage of organizations that operate a venue used for programming face a variety of obstacles, compared to those without a venue.
  • If mass gathering restrictions are extended or reinstated in the next 6 months, those with venues or facilities are less financially prepared (57%) than those without venues (72%).

Individuals
  • Most individuals identified that they face multiple obstacles, including general uncertainty and inability to plan for the future (82%); increased stress or shortage of energy and motivation (80%); and shortage of available work opportunities (62%). 
  • Although more Indigenous and racialized respondents have a higher degree of optimism for the sector's ability to recover, they identified more obstacles than their non-Indigenous and racialized colleagues. 
  • 40% of individuals say their relationships with friends and family (outside their household) have gotten worse, compared to before the pandemic. 30% say the same about their relationship with their work colleagues
  • Individuals who have already received their first dose of a vaccine are only slightly more comfortable in certain work and non-work indoor environments, compared to those who have not yet received their first dose but intend to. Comfort level is expected to significantly increase one month after full vaccination. 
  • While 34% of artists and arts workers project they would earn less than $20K this year, 21% said they don't know or it was too difficult to estimate at this time.
Spring 2021 Summary Report
Download the Spring 2021 Report (PDF)
December 2020 Report

On December 7, 2020, GVPTA released a second summary report on COVID-19's profound impact on the arts and culture sector across the province, based on survey responses collected between October and November, 2020 through the GVPTA COVID-19 B.C. Arts & Culture Impact Survey.


Scroll down to download the report.


December 2020 Impact Report Highlights

  • Of the 443 respondents57% were individual artists & arts workers, and the other 43% responded on behalf of an organization. Of the 253 responding as individuals, 54% identified solely as an artist17% solely an arts worker, and 29% as both artist and arts worker.
  • The top five disciplines of respondents included: Theatre (48%)Music (37%)Visual Arts (32%), along with Dance and Community Arts (tied at 30%).
  • The majority (61%) of respondents were based in Metro Vancouver.
  • Obstacles:
    • Most organizations identified that they face multiple obstacles, including current government regulations relating to public health orders (67%); financial constraints (59%), and lack of resources or capacity to adapt (51%);
    • Most individuals identified that they face multiple obstacles, including general uncertainty and inability to plan for the future (83%); shortage of available work opportunities (74%); and a shortage of personal energy and motivation (61%);
    • Individuals aged 35–54 reported a higher number of obstacles in the last three months in comparison with other age ranges;
    • 80% of Indigenous and Racialized respondents identified personal or family health and safety concerns, compared to 54% of non-Indigenous or Racialized individuals. 
  • 58% of organizations feel that they are financially prepared for the second wave of COVID-19.
  • Compared to the previous three months, organizations expect a net decrease in the number of staff, artist contracts, and hours worked over the next three months.
  • 91% of organizations had remote workers (working more than half of their hours) in September, an increase of 26 points compared to pre-pandemic. 86% of organizations expect to continue to have remote workers after vaccines are available.
  • 19% of artists and arts workers originally projected they would earn less than $20K this year from all sources of income, but now 56% expect to fall within that income bracket. 
  • 84% of respondents are interested in digital programming and practices. 49% indicated they don’t have access to the necessary technology to make the shift.
  • More respondents in non-urban and northern communities, compared to other communities in the province, feel they don't have affordable, reliable, high-speed internet in their region. 
  • Organizations are more optimistic about their own recovery now than in the spring, while artists and arts workers are less optimistic.
  • Overall, both organizations and individuals are less optimistic about B.C.’s arts and culture sector’s recovery today compared to responses in May/June.
Download the Dec. 2020 Report
June 2020 Report
COVID-19 Impact Survey pie chart showing disciplines surveyed and number of respondents

June 2020 Impact Report Highlights

The summary report released on June 1, 2020 was based on survey responses submitted across three versions of survey between March 12 and May 20, 2020.

Note that, as with any survey, the data is only partial representation of the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts and culture sector in British Columbia.
  • 866 unique respondents completed the survey between March 12 and May 20; 64% of respondents identified as artists or arts workers, and 36% of respondents completed the survey on behalf of an organization.
  • The top four disciplines represented were Visual Arts (39%), Theatre (29%), Community Arts and Music (tied at 19%).
  • Responses from 28 Regional Districts across the province were received, with 61% of respondents based in Metro Vancouver across the province were received, with 61% of respondents based in Metro Vancouver
  • Theatre, Music, and Festivals reported a higher percentage of financial losses from ticket sales compared with other disciplines.higher percentage of financial losses from ticket sales compared with other disciplines.higher percentage of financial losses from ticket sales compared with other disciplines.higher percentage of financial losses from ticket sales compared with other disciplines.
  • Organizations that operate a facility are disproportionately impacted by the loss of revenue from ticket sales and rentals (45%) compared with organizations without a facility (24%)
  • Facility-based organizations report more than twice the average financial loss compared with organizations without a facility
  • Organizations operating facilities will face critical cashflow challenges sooner than those without a facility
  • 43% of artists and arts workers are concerned that they will lose more than 75% of their projected income in 2020
  • 96% of respondents report experiencing higher stress and anxiety
Download the June 2020 Report