By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– The pandemic had a devastating impact on the nonprofit cultural sector in the Denver metro area. A new study by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) shows that coronavirus has reversed a decade of growth in the seven-county region.

(credit: Getty Images)

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Data from the nearly 300 arts, culture and scientific organizations funded by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) in the seven-county region, including Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson, was self-reported.

“Arts, culture and scientific organizations are the backbone of a vibrant, resilient and inclusive society. CBCA’s 2021 Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver Culture illustrates years of record-breaking cultural growth, which hit an all-time high in 2019, and conversely in 2020, how a community responds to drastic and disruptive circumstances,” said Christin Crampton Day, executive director of CBCA, in a statement.

CBCA was able to track changes over time and below is a snapshot of the key metrics comparing 2019 to 2020.

(credit: CBCA)

Additional Information From CBCA:

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Arts and cultural activity reached a peak in 2019, breaking records for economic activity and impact. Economic activity, which comprises direct and indirect spending from operations, audiences and capital projects, reached $2.3 billion in 2019, the highest amount reported by CBCA. Economic impact, a
segment of total activity that accounts for “new money” to the region, also reached a new height at $860 million.

The arts sector lost a decade of growth in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary closure of venues and stay-at-home orders starting in March 2020 had a sudden and severe impact on the arts community. Key metrics like jobs and attendance were reduced to levels from the last recession
or lower.

Investments in new facilities, renovations and capital campaigns boosted overall economic activity and impact in 2019 and into 2020. There was a 272% increase from 2017 to 2019 in the economic impact of capital expenditures. Several of those projects continued into 2020, despite indoor spaces remaining closed during the pandemic.

Individual giving and government grants increased significantly in 2020. These sources helped to cover major losses in earned revenue and corporate event sponsorships as a result of the pandemic.

Individual giving increased 14% from 2019 to 2020, and federal grants increased by a record-breaking 420% in 2020. In general, philanthropy and public support for the arts is the only key metric that went up (5.5%) between 2019 and 2020.

“One bright spot of the 2020 data reported was that philanthropy and giving to arts and culture in the metro region is up, which provides hope and critical funding needed for the ongoing economic recovery of the nonprofit arts sector,” Crampton Day added in a statement. “This report will be a vital advocacy tool to ensure arts and culture endure so we can build back stronger.”

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The full report can be found on CBCA’s website: http://cbca.org/2021-economic-activity-study.

Jennifer McRae