While the arts sector was effective in securing PPP loans, the $1.8 billion received by 9,917 nonprofit arts organizations severely lags its $9.1 billion in pandemic losses

Americans for the Arts

The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. Nationally, financial losses to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are an estimated $9.1 billion as of July 13, 2020. 96% of organizations have cancelled events since the onset of the pandemic—many well in to 2021—resulting in a loss of 327 million admissions. 62% of artists have become unemployed.

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the $2.3 trillion CARES Act, the coronavirus pandemic stimulus package. One of its core components is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan that provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The federal government recently released details on 4.9 million loans worth more than $500 billion.

An analysis by Americans for the Arts reveals the following about how the arts and creative economy sector performed in securing PPP loans:

  • Of the total 4.9 million PPP loans, 173,243 of them were made to arts and creative economy businesses worth $13.7 billion, which preserved 1,124,138 jobs. This is a broad and inclusive analysis that extends well beyond the nonprofit arts sector (theaters, museums, arts education organizations). It also includes the for-profit and commercial sectors (architecture, advertising, movie production, book publishing, and musical instrument manufacturing), and gig workers (individual arts entrepreneurs, self-employed artists). (See the 53 categories of arts businesses in the table below.)
  • Of the 173,243 arts loans, 9,917 went to nonprofit arts organizations and 163,326 went to for-profit arts and creative economy businesses.
  • Within the $13.7 billion in arts and creative economy loans, $11.9 billion were awarded to for-profit arts businesses and gig workers, and $1.8 billion were awarded to nonprofit arts organizations. 
  • Of the 1.12 million jobs reported as retained in the arts and creative economy, 176,261 jobs were by nonprofit arts organizations and 947,877 by for-profit arts businesses and gig workers. 

The table shown here details the 53 arts industries tracked for this analysis. (Click here or on the table image to view an enlarged version.)

  • The data columns represent PPP totals to the arts and creative economy industries as well as just PPP loans received by nonprofits (i.e., a subset of the total).
  • The industries are categorized by NAICS codes, which is a system used by the federal government to classify business establishments. For example, any code that begins with “71” is part of the “Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation” sector, which are businesses “operating or providing services to meet varied cultural, entertainment, and recreational interests of their patrons.” The codes in this table are six digits, which provides more specificity between subsectors. There are more than 1,000 NAICS codes. For purposes of this analysis, we identified 53 codes primarily associated with arts and culture.

If you have not received a PPP loan, there are still billions of PPP dollars remaining in the fund. The deadline to apply is August 8, 2020. Need to learn more? Our CARES Act Table provides comprehensive information on accessing PPP and other federal coronavirus relief funds from the perspective of a nonprofit arts org, a governmental arts agency, a commercial arts company, a self-employed individual artist, and as a taxpayer.

  • Americans for the Arts