Arts, Coronavirus

Atlanta Arts Organizations Predicted To Lose More Than $10 Million During COVID-19 Shutdown

A woman walks past the Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens, Georgia. Arts organizations everywhere are being affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. Lara Smith, managing director of Dad's Garage Theatre, led an effort to see what impact the shutdown may have on Atlanta arts organizations.
A woman walks past the Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens, Georgia. Arts organizations everywhere are being affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. Lara Smith, managing director of Dad's Garage Theatre, led an effort to see what impact the shutdown may have on Atlanta arts organizations.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

A new survey reveals that Atlanta arts organizations collectively will lose more than $10 million during this shutdown.

Lara Smith, managing director of Dad’s Garage Theatre, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to discuss the findings and why she led the effort.

“I found myself over the past three or four weeks unaware of how much time has passed. I kept saying, ‘We need data. We need this survey. We need to be able to share kind of a snapshot of what’s happening in this sector.’ I finally realized that I had to stop saying it or do the survey,” Smith said.

Fifty-five arts nonprofits were surveyed to determine how the coronavirus would affect this sector. The data came from leading arts organizations in the metro Atlanta area and from nonprofits that benefited from the Bloomberg Philanthropies cohort.

In the survey, 96% of respondents expressed the need for additional funding in the form of an unrestricted grant.

“Right now with so much uncertainty, it’s really hard to do a project grant because we don’t know when it’s going to be safe to reopen. An unrestricted grant allows you to spend those funds in the way that’s best for the organization and allows you to fulfill the mission, rather than on one very specific project,” Smith said.

Not only do shows, presentations, performances and museums benefit the organizations that hold them, they also benefit Atlanta’s economic growth.

Smith says arts organizations have a $719 million impact on the metro Atlanta economy, and that includes about 23,000 people who are employed by those companies.

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