Impact of COVID-19 on Toronto's Non-Profit Arts Sector

A dancer stretches her arms out
Anandam Dance Theatre. Dancer Nithya Garg in Ephemeral Artifacts, part of Nuit Blanche Scarborough. Choreographed by Brandy Leary. Photo by Drew Berry (2019)

On March 17, 2020 the Government of Ontario declared a state of public emergency to protect the public from COVID-19. Toronto’s 9-billion-dollar culture sector quickly complied with Toronto Public Health’s requirements to practise social distancing. The impact of the closures on Toronto’s not for profit arts sector threatens the very sustainability of Toronto’s cultural infrastructure by highlighting the fragility of the eco system and exacerbating long standing inequities.

Arts production and presentation are important engines of Toronto’s and Canada’s economy:

  • 90% of Torontonians believe that the arts make Toronto a better place to live
  • Toronto is home to twice as many artists as any other Canadian city
  • Costs of arts production are much higher in Toronto (high costs of space)
  • With 51% of the population identifying as BIPOC, Toronto is the nucleus of Canada’s cultural diversity
  • Toronto’s arts organizations will be instrumental in rebuilding consumer confidence and will fuel the region’s economic recovery

Toronto’s non-profit art sector is nationally significant.  With its population at 8% of the country Toronto has:

  • 29% national non-profit arts ticket sales
  • 40% national private sector revenue
  • 29% national non-profit arts revenues and expenses
  • 38% national audiences
  • 25% national artists
  • 30% national volunteers

Estimated impact of COVID-19 closures for non-profit arts in Toronto, March 2020 - March 2021

  • 12,000 public performances cancelled
  • 10,000 public performances proceeded outdoors or online
  • $58 million lost ticket sales
  • $78 million required for facility operating costs with much lower offsetting revenue
  • 17 million fewer audience members
  • $16 million lost artist and production salaries/fees
  • All figures based on financial data in CADAC (Canadian Arts Data /Données sur les arts au Canada

Toronto Arts Council (TAC) committed to providing accurate and up to date information for the arts community throughout the COVID-19 emergency response period, with the understanding that COVID-19 presented extraordinary challenges for artists and arts organizations in Toronto. The resources and TAC announcements compiled on this page may be of interest to Toronto's arts community at large. 

If you have received a grant from Toronto Arts Council, and have any questions or concerns about planned activities or programming that may be affected by COVID-19, please contact your Program Manager ✹



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