The performing arts industry has been thoroughly upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, with venues shut down, performances canceled, and artists out of work. A Brookings Institution report issued last summer estimated the damage in the fine and performing arts at almost 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales lost.
With vaccines now becoming available and an end to pandemic restrictions on the horizon, the Peabody Institute convened arts industry leaders to explore the path forward for artists and organizations and the long-term, post-COVID landscape for the performing arts.
On February 10, we had participants attend from all walks of the performing arts, and what was immediately apparent was the hunger for, and exuberance at, just being able to be together virtually to talk about how the performing arts can emerge from the pandemic and – perhaps most important – how we leverage the experience to make fundamental change for the performing arts, as we grapple with long-term trends that challenge our field.
While in truth, we could barely scratch the surface in just one day, certain things were deeply felt. The need for our field to diversify our administrations, performing rosters, board members, audiences, and more, is urgent. For too long our field has approached this issue as peripheral. The other headline, for me, was that we need to build institutions across our field that are more flexible and adaptable structurally and programmatically, responsive to communities, open to evolving ways of making art that is relevant to peoples’ lives and needs, and embraced by an increasingly broader and more inclusive audience. And we all must approach our work, our institutions and the people we impact, and those we would like to engage with, with a sense of humility.
Dean | Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
We have compiled articles and studies about COVID-19 and the performing arts to further build on the discussions held during the symposium.
Dean Fred Bronstein explores the post-COVID future of performing arts in an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun.