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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: New study shows COVID-19 pandemic taking heavy toll on state's arts and culture sector

Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]
Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]

A new report released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution confirms what many in Oklahoma's arts sector have feared and suspected for the past six months. 

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the state's arts and cultural industry.

Co-authored by Richard Florida ("The Rise of the Creative Class"), the report from the Washington, D.C., think tank shows that between April 1 and July 31, Oklahoma experienced an estimated loss of 19,504 creative industry jobs and $606 million in sales of creative industry goods and services. 

The data indicate that the fine and performing arts have been hit hardest by the pandemic, with losses disproportionate to other parts of the creative economy – representing up to 50 percent of jobs lost in some cases, according to a news release from the Oklahoma Arts Council. 

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said in a statement that without further relief for the arts sector, the data implies a grim outlook for Oklahoma.

"This report verifies the dire circumstances facing our sector," Sharples said in a statement. "Artists and creative workers are out of jobs; performance venues, theaters, and festivals are shuttered; and, fundraising events are nearly impossible. As creative industries and occupations are essential to a healthy and growing Oklahoma economy, there is real risk of long-term negative outcomes for our state. We must pursue all means necessary to provide relief to the arts industry so that our state can continue its Top Ten trajectory."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Oklahoma's arts and cultural sector in 2017 represented 2.3 percent of the state's gross domestic product, making up a sizable part of Oklahoma's economy. 

An Americans for the Arts study released in 2017 showed that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences in Oklahoma have significant economic impact, producing $872.8 million in economic activity, supporting 29,165 jobs and generating $84.5 million in state and local tax revenue. 

According to the authors of the new Brookings Institution report, the creative sector is one of three key sectors that drive regional economies. The authors say that lasting damage to an area's creative sector will drastically undercut culture, well-being and quality of life.

The Brookings Institution report, "Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19's Devastating Impact on America's Creative Economy," is available for download at www.brookings.edu.

-BAM 

Related Photos
Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City,  Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]

Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-870fa84566bed30b3344d68cc0e575fa.jpg" alt="Photo - Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]" title="Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]"><figcaption>Katie McCollum performs during a rehearsal for "Distant Thunder" at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 13, 2020. Lyric Theatre was forced to postpone the world premiere performances of the trailblazing Native American musical to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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