Hundreds of nonprofit arts, cultural and historical organizations and thousands of artists and sector workers have experienced catastrophic financial losses that threaten irreparable damage. New Jersey’s cultural industry has sustained millions of dollars of losses due to pandemic related closures and cancelations. Institutions, some of which have been serving New Jersey communities for decades, have exhausted reserves, laid off staff, depleted endowments, and increased debt.
New Jersey’s cultural industries – when open and thriving – are essential components of our state and local economies. Nonprofit arts organizations generate more than $660 million in economic activity, employ nearly 22,000 workers, and engage more than 8.3 million people who stay in hotels, and eat and shop locally, all year round. Millions of dollars are spent through heritage tourism annually, and thousands of jobs are created to accommodate visitors who explore New Jersey’s rich role in history.
While business as it was before COVID-19 has come to a screeching halt, these same organizations, as well as individual artists, have continued working, many without pay, to offer relief and hope for residents of all ages, including some of our most vulnerable populations. Cultural organizations offer opportunities for connection, stress relief, education, and much needed entertainment. Many also serve as community anchors, capitalizing on strategic partnerships and innovative programs that intersect with vital social services.
The arts and culture in New Jersey are already a visible part of pandemic relief. As the sector at large braces for worst case scenarios, including permanent closures, New Jersey and its residents risk losing a necessary component of a complete recovery. With help, the sector can continue to support healing and resilience now and into the future.