LA County’s nonprofit arts organizations, along with the region’s artists, are powerful contributors to the local creative economy, which generates more than $203 billion annually. One of every seven jobs in Los Angeles is in a creative field, according to the 2020 Otis Report on the Creative Economy.
Yet the pandemic has taken a toll on arts and cultural nonprofits. Surveys by Americans for the Arts show that almost half of LA County arts nonprofits have dipped into financial reserves and one-third have laid off or furloughed staff. One in seven say they are not confident their organization will survive the impacts of COVID-19.
“This is a defining moment for Los Angeles. Our region runs on creativity, and all the arts are interconnected,” said Wendy Garen, president and chief executive officer of The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. “The LA Arts Recovery Fund represents a down payment on the robust arts community we need, now and after the pandemic. Investing in our community’s cultural and arts organizations today is an investment in a more resilient economy and vital future for the entire region.”
The pandemic has magnified pre-existing financial and structural challenges experienced by arts nonprofits. On average, arts organizations hold fewer than four months of operating cash reserves. Such budget constraints, combined with an unclear picture of how and when cultural institutions will re-open, and under what conditions larger gatherings will be safely permitted, have exposed the financial fragility of this critical part of LA’s nonprofit sector. Further, inequities in arts funding in the U.S., particularly among small to medium-sized organizations and those that serve diverse communities, add to the financial stresses experienced by arts leaders.
“The arts are vital to the wellbeing of our communities and our region's recovery in this pivotal moment, but our cultural sector cannot fulfill that mission without additional support,” said Kristin Sakoda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. “Driven by a public-private partnership, collective philanthropic effort, and a commitment to arts organizations that reflect our diverse cultures and communities, the LA Arts Recovery Fund will fortify nonprofits within our cultural ecology so they can fulfill their visions, now and into the future.”