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Report Shows COVID-19 Taking Heavy Toll on Oklahoma's Arts Industry


OKLAHOMA CITY (September 2, 2020) – A new report released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, co-authored by Richard Florida ("The Rise of the Creative Class"), confirms what many in the arts in Oklahoma have feared – the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the state's arts and cultural industry.

The report shows that between April 1 and July 31, 2020, Oklahoma experienced an estimated loss of 19,504 creative industry jobs and $606 million in sales of creative industry goods and services. Data indicates 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.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said 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. "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."

The Economic Impact of Arts and Culture in Oklahoma

Representing 2.3 percent of the state's gross domestic product (GDP), Oklahoma's arts and cultural sector is a sizable part of the state's economy (source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017). A study released in 2017 showed that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences in Oklahoma have significant economic impact, including:

According to the authors of the Brookings Institution report, the creative sector is one of three key sectors that drive regional economies. The authors state 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


About the Oklahoma Arts Council
The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 350 grants to nearly 200 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state's arts and cultural industry, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma state Capitol. Additional information is available at

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