Recently, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) released a report examining how arts and culture institutions that accepted Payroll Protection Program (PPP) handled staff layoffs.
These initial studies provide useful context for ongoing analysis and while I hope AFSCME continues to examine the money trail as more information becomes available, I would love to see a Foundation or Service Organization go in a different direction. Specifically, how nonprofit performing arts orgs that maintained artistic activity over the pandemic are faring compared to those that went dark.
Groups like the Dallas Symphony and Toledo Symphony made the decision to invest in their people, accept the challenge of keeping those people safe, and pioneer new program and revenue opportunities. On the other side of that coin are groups like Indianapolis Symphony, that opted to shut down entirely and lay off nearly their entire workforce (musicians and staff).
It would be remarkably useful to see a comprehensive study designed to identify patterns and rates of recovery among groups across the operation spectrum. At the very least, it would provide a reliable reference for future boards and executives if (when?) they face a similar crossroad.
It would be more than a shame if we lost this opportunity and found ourselves failing to learn from the past.