COVID-19 has cost Utah’s cultural sector $29 million

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s cultural sector has announced a $29-million loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah’s arts, museums, humanities, history, and film centers have all shut down operations due to the virus. 

“Everybody’s life is changed and completely different than it was from a week ago,” said Crystal Young-Otterstrom.

Related: Intermountain Healthcare launches online symptom checker

The executive director for Utah Cultural Alliance told ABC4 News that the sector has taken a hard hit. 

“We are heavily reliant on ticket sales,” she said.

Ticket sales have plummeted due to the statewide restrictions and limits on social gatherings to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Data collected shows Utah’s cultural sector has lost $29,128,343 since being shut down, 88.2-percent of events have been postponed or canceled and 642 jobs have been terminated since last Thursday.

Related: State leaders share best practices to support economy through COVID-19 pandemic

“We actually believe those numbers to be low because we know we’re not even getting all of the stage-hands who suddenly have productions canceled on them, every single gig musician, and every single actor,” Young-Otterstrom explained.

She says one way the community can help is by not requesting a ticket refund to events that have been canceled and donate the ticket to the organization instead.

“We certainly recognize that financial resources need to be given where it’s needed most first, which are increasing tests and medical supply and getting food to people who need it. But as the attention turns to recovery as a state, we release this data in the hopes that they’ll remember that we need help too with recovery as a cultural sector.”

Young-Otterstrom says businesses that have jobs available can also help by considering hiring people under the cultural alliance umbrella. 

“It’s hard for these artists and these gig workers to receive unemployment benefits because they’re not W2 employees, and so we call on our state leaders to make sure that these kinds of workers are included in unemployment insurance.”

With tears coming down her face, Young-Otterstrom told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson that this community will adapt.

“One of the things I love about arts and humanities is the ability to rise above and this is one of those times where we can do that.”

For a list of virtual events, click here.

The study was done by the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, Utah Division of Arts & Museums, Utah Cultural Alliance, Utah Humanities, Utah Museums Association, Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks (ZAP), and Salt Lake City Arts Council.

For a link to the entire study, click here.

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