A ‘Great Cultural Depression’ Looms for Legions of Unemployed Performers
Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from The New York Times
Patricia Cohen | 26 December 2020
In the top echelons of classical music, the violinist Jennifer Koh is by any measure a star.
With a dazzling technique, she has ridden a career that any aspiring Juilliard grad would dream about — appearing with leading orchestras, recording new works, and performing on some of the world’s most prestigious stages.
Now, nine months into a contagion that has halted most public gatherings and decimated the performing arts, Ms. Koh, who watched a year’s worth of bookings evaporate, is playing music from her living room and receiving food stamps.
Pain can be found in nearly every nook of the economy. Millions of people have lost their jobs and tens of thousands of businesses have closed since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the United States. But even in these extraordinary times, the losses in the performing arts and related sectors have been staggering.
During the quarter ending in September, when the overall unemployment rate averaged 8.5 percent, 52 percent of actors, 55 percent of dancers and 27 percent of musicians were out of work, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. By comparison, the jobless rate was 27 percent for waiters; 19 percent for cooks; and about 13 percent for retail salespeople over the same period.