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COVID-19: Did this Change Everything?

A round-up of articles and reports on the state of the cultural sector three years after the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it caused for arts and cultural organizations.

Recent data in the U.S. shows that COVID-19 no longer poses as great a public health threat as it once did. However, its impacts are still being felt in the arts and cultural sector. Organizations have now had time to research and report on its impact and to reflect on the future to come. Here are recent articles and reports that describe the post-pandemic cultural landscape.

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Urban Futures

Creative Recovery?: The Role of Cultural Policy in Shaping Post-COVID Urban Futures

A report on data collected from 40 world cities analyzed how cultural policy makers responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on urban futures. (World Cities Culture Forum and King’s College London)

Back to the Future: Why We Need a Return to Future Thinking Post-pandemic

The pamphlet about COVID’s impact on culture in Edinburgh argues that rather than returning to the status quo, the cultural sector must engage in future thinking to address inequality and sustainability. (Morvern Cunningham)

The Twenty-First Century Museum

2023 National Snapshot of United States Museums

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has released the results of its annual survey of 300+ museum directors, which now includes metrics that it began tracking in 2020 on pandemic impacts including staffing, revenue, and visitor numbers. (American Alliance of Museums)

Visitor Attraction Trends in England 2022

Visits to U.K. museum and attractions increased by 42% from 2021 to 2022, though are still 35% below where they were in 2019. Rising costs have also impacted the sector. (Visit Britain/Visit England)

Can European Museums Lure Visitors Once Again?

After pandemic-inflicted downturns in 2020 and 2021, visitation rates to European and U.K. museums are rebounding due to pent-up demand and special exhibitions. (Hyperallergic)

A New Organization Wants to Empower US to Reallocate Resources from Objects to People

Inspired in part by changes in the museum sector due to COVID-19 and 2020 movements for racial justice, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has launched Remuseum, a three-year initiative to research and report on museums’ alignment with their missions and the communities they serve. (The Art Newspaper)

Cultural Production & Consumption

Cultural Consumption and COVID-19

This study of cultural consumption trends in the U.K. finds no significant change in cultural consumption or cultural stratifications due to COVID-19. (Leisure Studies)

The Pandemic Politics of Cultural Work: Collective Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis

This article studies how workers in the cultural sector responded to the pandemic by foregrounding cultural production as work; participating in mutual aid; and advocating for systemic changes at the policy level. (International Journal of Cultural Policy)

Performing Arts

American Theater Is Imploding Before Our Eyes

Nonprofit theaters are cutting programming and laying off staff due to changes in audiences and cultural habits fomented by the pandemic. This piece argues that the U.S. needs another New Deal scale federal intervention to prevent the sector's collapse. (New York Times)

4 Performing-Arts Groups Innovate to Survive — and Thrive — in the Post-Covid Era

From charcuterie boards to co-ops, performing arts groups are turning to new tactics to bring audiences back and fight the effects of sky-high rent. (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

Theater is in freefall, and the pandemic isn’t the only thing to blame

A "perfect storm" of changing cultural habits, demographic changes, and economic factors due, in part to the pandemic, but also to larger shifts in the sector have caused small and midsize theaters to struggle and in some cases, to close altogether. (Washington Post)

Dallas arts groups try to stay alive while working to diversify their boards

This survey of Dallas performing arts organizations shows progress being made towards board diversification amidst changes in audiences and operating models caused by COVID-19. (The Dallas Morning News)

AEA Consulting is a global firm setting the standard in strategy and planning for the cultural and creative industries.

We are known for our candid and impartial advice that draws on deep knowledge of the cultural sector as well as robust research and analytical insight.

Since 1991, we have successfully delivered more than 1,200 assignments in 42 countries, helping clients around the world plan and realize vital and sustainable cultural projects.