A community wide survey exploring how COVID-19 has affected the Southern Arizona creative sector, new solutions for rebounding stronger together, and creative ideas for long-term collaboration.
September 18, 2020 The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance has released findings from its new survey assessing how the Creative Sector in Southern Arizona has been impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the results paint a significantly challenged picture, but also provide much needed insight from the sector on ways in which a rebuild and recovery phase might attain success in Southern Arizona. The sector was identified among the top five industries experiencing the most direct, immediate and lasting economic threats due to the pandemic by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, according to the New York Times. The survey garnered more than 765 responses collected through four digital surveys distributed through email, community outreach, and direct communication from March 2020 - May 2020. Survey participants were asked to reflect on how COVID-19 has impacted their well-being, rate their level of need and interest forprofessional development topics, and gauge support forcollective action goals to move the sector forward towards rebound, recovery and rebuild. The survey focused on feedback from Visual Artists and Artisans, Musicians, Culinary Arts Sector and Creative Industries, which encompass both for-profit and non-profit organizations, artists, musicians, venues, design, video, film, advertising, architecture, production and fashion businesses. Data from the summarized survey responses include the following:
ECONOMIC IMPACT Drops in artistic income were significant and across the board, in every creative discipline. The financial impact hit restaurants the hardest with estimated lost income of $37,800 per restaurant for the two months leading up to the survey (March – April). Individual musicians estimated losses of $2,400, Visual Artists averaged $4,150, and Creative Industries reported average losses of $7,000. Based on the latest business census of the creative sector, this represents total losses for Pima County of $3.37 million for individual visual artists, musicians, and performing artists. Forecasts for the coming twelve months indicate deeper sustained losses upwards of $7.96 million for the Southern Arizona creative sector. Despite this loss, artists and respondents emphasized they are using the time to create new work, explore new techniques, and refine their artistic process. CREATIVE SECTOR NEEDS The survey indicated that there is a greatneed for new tools and resources that support creatives in pivoting their business online, expanding their reach through online marketing training, and support for learning new technology and approaches for creating digital content. This need is underscored by a strong enthusiasm for business and civic collaborations to support community-wide marketing efforts and advocacy for sustainable funding for the creative sector. The survey also suggests prioritiesfor how the sector can help rebuild our communities through active cross-sector collaboration.
Respondents enthusiasticallysupported ideas of new collaborations with healthcare, education, transportation, retail, and tourism sectors. By far, the most dynamic results indicated a strongneed to improve advocacy among the sector in uniting voices and mobilizing action at all levels of community and government. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance asked survey respondents to think outside the box and long-term about how Tucson and Southern Arizona can become a stronger hub of innovation, arts, and culture. While the pandemic has revealed significantfinancial and socio-economic vulnerabilities in the sector, it also provides an opportunity to spark new cross-sector collaborations and refocus collective action goals.
We asked survey participants to highlight where they saw the most valuable areas for further conversation. The feedback included a strong desire for better and immediate collaboration between the major local institutions in both for-profit and non-profit sectors with local artists and creative sector representatives. Additionally, stand out areas for greater community leadership include opportunities for incorporating city-level designated advocates for the arts, focused tourism andbranding campaigns, and regional marketing initiatives. PRIORITIES The survey paints a picture that simultaneouslyreflects the harsh realities of a financially devastated sector and an optimistic resolve to rebuild and create through thoughtful collaboration and action amidst the pandemic in Southern Arizona. Artists, creatives and organizations will play a significant role in the ultimate success of a rebound opportunity for our community’s future. The survey makes clear that without additional government support, we are heading for a significant, sustained cultural downturn. If nothing is done, hundreds of creative businesses are set to close their doors, thousands of jobs will be lost, and millionsin sector revenue, as well as economic development and tourism dollars, will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our community. The 2020 COVID-19 Creative Sector Rebound, Recovery and Rebuild Survey provides urgent and timely insights that will continue to inform the programming and creative sector support services of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.
We share our findings and this survey report publicly to spark a broader community conversation of the importance of the creative sector in the rebuild, recovery and rebound efforts of our local economy and culture. We hope that the creative sector, community leadership and arts advocates can learn from and utilize the results while we engage in deeper conversations of policy, action and funding during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. We also hope artists and respondents take inspiration from the collective results and find the suggested resources valuable in charting a path for their own business and artistic recovery. Click here for the full summary of survey data.
The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance has established a COVID-19 resource page, including the latest updates from the organization,funding opportunities, emergency preparedness best practices, and online resources specific to the arts and cultural sector. Kate Marquez, Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance said, “It is time to both envision and conceive a new future for our community. We will absolutely depend on our creative sector to help us do just that. We cannot ignore them, as they are the individuals and organizations who will help us emerge stronger, with more sustainable, diverse and equitable solutions for our future.”
2019 SOUTHERN ARIZONA CREATIVE SECTOR SURVEY
A Survey of Southern Arizona Artists, Creatives and Makers on their work, Well Being, Professional Development Needs, Socioeconomic Status, Access to Healthcare and Demographics.
The cultural and economic contributions of artists, creatives and makers to their wider communities are well-known to those who actively participate and engage in arts advocacy. Less well understood are the dynamic needs of artists in key quality of life areas such as income, places of work, health insurance coverage, ongoing professional development needs, and what helps artists grow their network and thrive professionally. To better understand these needs and how to serve them, SAACA launched an annual regional survey of the Southern Arizona Creative Sector of all disciplines to assess these measures and benchmark the needs of those who give so much back to our region.
The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance is proud to serve artists of all disciplines throughout the region.We plan to take action on the above data to help strengthen the infrastructure of our artistic communities through the below actionable items moving forward.
Sharing this information with our business leaders and public elected officials to create a stronger case for the economic impact of the arts in our region
Expanding the reach of our data capture methods in the 2020 survey through collaborative partnerships, focus groups, and in person survey engagement year round
Creating and executing new opportunities for artists in professional development, network and capacity building
The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation, preservation and advancement of the Arts. SAACA strengthens the bonds between people, place and purpose through collaborative, arts-driven experiences.