SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


SMU DataArts Partners in a Survey Examining Impact of COVID-19 on NYC's Cultural Sector

  • Posted Apr 24, 2020

NEW YORK CITY, NY - Today, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and Americans for the Arts announced a new partnership to survey 501(c)3 nonprofit cultural organizations in New York City in an effort to capture the full breadth of the financial impact COVID-19 has had on this crucial sector. More than 1,200 groups that have applied for DCLA funding in recent years will be encouraged to complete the 5 minute survey over the next two weeks. The survey results will be collected by Americans for the Arts and sent to SMU DataArts, which will provide a detailed report supported by its extensive repository of data from the Cultural Data Profile. DCLA has partnered with SMU DataArts for over ten years in collecting data on New York’s cultural organizations. The goal is to better understand the damage that COVID-19 and the associated shutdowns, closures, cancellations, and other losses are causing for the cultural organizations that are so critical to New York City’s economy and social wellbeing, helping to shape and inform any future advocacy and relief efforts. The report will also examine the early impact this crisis has had on groups operating in and serving the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“As we continue to think about how New York City will reemerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we must consider the City's economic and emotional drivers, and our vibrant cultural sector is a huge part of that,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “The data we gain from this important collaboration with Americans for the Arts and SMU Data Arts will allow us to better understand the losses that organizations have faced, and ultimately to shape efforts, both public and private, aimed at supporting this indispensable part of New York City where it's needed most."

“This survey is a first step toward understanding the full impact COVID-19 has had on New York’s cultural community. Quantifying that impact will be critical to shaping recovery efforts,” said Cultural Affairs Acting Commissioner Kathleen Hughes. “Assessing the damages sustained by organizations which are so integral to our communities, especially those that have proved most vulnerable to this crisis - low income neighborhoods and communities of color - will help us support the resurgence of every part of our city. A diverse and vibrant cultural sector is essential to a diverse and vibrant New York."

"New Yorkers understand how vital arts and culture is to this city and our economy, especially now,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Forced to shut their doors ceasing all programming, exhibitions, and events due to COVID-19, the cultural sector is at great risk without support. A deep dive into how arts organizations have been hit and impacted is necessary to help this sector recover and open their doors again."

Starting today and running for the next two weeks, groups that have applied for DCLA funding in the last three years - regardless of funding outcome - are encouraged to complete the survey, which is available at Created by Americans for the Arts as an extension of its ongoing national survey of arts organizations, NYC nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are being asked to complete this survey even if they’ve previously responded to Americans for the Arts’ national survey. The new responses will capture new information, such as EIN numbers, allowing for more detailed analysis for the NYC cultural sector. For individual artists, there is a separate active survey on Americans for the Arts’ website, available at

The report from SMU DataArts will look at the effects of COVID-19 on NYC’s cultural sector since the first case of the virus was detected in the U.S. in January, and continue through the widespread closures that began to take effect in March 2020 and to the present. The survey also asks groups for any estimates of projected future organizational impact as programs continue to be cancelled or postponed, which the report will also summarize.

SMU DataArts, which has over 10 years of financial data on DCLA applicant organizations, will analyze the Americans for the Arts survey responses with additional context to provide a detailed understanding of how the pandemic has affected organizations based on their budget sizes, fundraising capacity, and more. The report will also include an examination of the impacts on groups based in and / or serving historically underserved populations, including low income communities and communities of color. SMU DataArts’ analysis will be released later this spring.

Results of this survey will help inform relief and advocacy efforts for New York City’s diverse cultural sector. DCLA’s early response to COVID-19 prioritized continuity of operations and connecting its constituents to available funding and resources. DCLA has also started processing payments for all FY20 grantees. As the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes clearer in the months ahead, DCLA will continue to evaluate how its constituents are being affected. 



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The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit



Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at



SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, is a joint project of the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. SMU DataArts compiles and analyzes data on arts organizations and their communities nationwide and develops reports on important issues in arts management and patronage. Its findings are available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public. The vision of SMU DataArts is to build a national culture of data-driven decision-making for those who want to see the arts and culture sector thrive. Its mission is to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data and evidence-based resources and insights that help them to overcome challenges and increase impact. Publications include white papers on culturally specific arts organizations, the egalitarian nature of the arts in America, gender equity in art museum directorships, protecting organizations through downturns, and more. SMU DataArts also publishes reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector and the annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which highlights the 40 most arts-vibrant communities around the country.