SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Chorus Operations Survey and COVID-19 Impact Report (2022)

  • Posted Oct 21, 2022

Prepared for Chorus America August 2022

Rebecca Roscoe, Senior Research Associate, SMU DataArts

Image courtesy of Summit Choral Society, Akron, Ohio. Photo by Dennis Roliff (2015). Image courtesy of Summit Choral Society, Akron, Ohio. Photo by Dennis Roliff (2015).

Executive Summary

The 2022 Chorus Operations Survey Report shares how choruses’ budgets, digital and in-person programming practices, and staffing have changed due to the impact of COVID-19. It highlights the significant impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on choruses’ budgets – impacts that are consistent with what is being seen across the arts and culture sector generally. While the choruses that contributed data ended fiscal year 2020/21 in an overall healthy financial position, the report leaves no doubt that the choral field faces a period of regrowth and rebalancing.

New to this year’s report, SMU DataArts’ streamlined Cultural Data Profile allows in-depth reporting on digital and in-person offerings, including attendance numbers for each. Almost all distinct performances reported were digital, with over half of chorus programming offered as on-demand productions or programs that could be viewed anytime. Even as choruses resume more in-person activities, measuring and benchmarking the impact of digital programming will continue to be important for demonstrating overall impact.


Key Findings

  • Since the pandemic, there has been a 3% increase in contributed revenue across the arts and culture sector. For choruses analyzed, the most significant types of funding are individual support (36%), followed by foundation contributions (16%). Fourteen percent of total revenue came from government sources in 2020/21. Increases were recognized in government support while individual contributions and foundation support remained fairly steady.
  • Total operating revenue among choruses studied experienced a 14% decrease from fiscal year 2019 to 2021. Earned revenue plummeted in 2021 as choruses paused programming. Contributed revenue saw a 19% increase from 2019 to 2021, when much of the federal relief funding was received.
  • Seventy-nine percent of choruses received some level of federal or other government relief funding since the start of COVID-19.
  • Choruses analyzed reduced their expenses by 35% from fiscal year 2019 to 2021. Small and mid-sized choruses greatly reduced their expenses. Overall, choruses ended fiscal year 2020/21 with a 15% unrestricted surplus.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of choruses analyzed reported at least one full or part-time paid staff person. During the pandemic, choruses were relatively successful in retaining full-time staff.
  • Eighty-five percent of choruses modified their program delivery in 2020/21. Over half of chorus programming in 2020/21 came from distinct on-demand productions or programs. Nearly all of these programs were produced digitally.


Download the Full Report


Chorus America is the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field. We support and serve choral conductors, administrators, board members, and singers with tools, training, peer networking, and access so that choruses are better able to contribute to their communities.

Chorus America serves more than 6,000 choruses, individuals, businesses, and organizations with a wide array of programs, publications, research, and professional services. These services strengthen their ability to build strong organizations that foster quality choral performances and community connections.

Chorus America is governed by a diverse board of accomplished arts leaders from across North America, and the executive staff is headquartered in Washington, DC. Chorus America was founded as the Association of Professional Vocal Ensembles in 1977 to gain recognition for professional choruses and today represents hundreds of choruses of every kind throughout North America and beyond. Learn more and join.

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