COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Industries April Snapshot

On 8 April 2020, Culture Counts launched its research initiative regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural industries, this snapshot provides a summary of the responses received so far.

COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Industries April Snapshot


Analysis is split into three sections; what has happened, how organisations have transformed to adapt to the situation and what types of support resources will be most useful to them at this time. Download the snapshot >


The stories and comments we hear from our colleagues and peers have been devastating, and these survey results were no different. The following section looks at what impacts have been felt by organisations due to the introduction COVID-19 related restrictions.

  • 96% have cancelled programs or events
  • 88% have lost revenue
  • 79% reported an impact to staff wellbeing
  • 70% do not have a place to connect or collaborate

Of the 45% of respondents that have decreased or cut staff, 68% have dismissed casual staff, while 53% reported part-time or full-time working reduced hours.

The nature of employment in the sector compounds this impact, with 58% of respondents reporting their ineligibility for the Australian Government's JobKeeper package. At the time of the survey, full details of the program had not been released, resulting in 16% of respondents being unsure.

The cancellation of events is a significant drain on revenue for organisations, but commercial revenue is only one funding source. Organisations reported flow-on funding declines from all sources of sponsorship, government and philanthropy funding. Sponsorship was the
most commonly noted drop, with 44% of respondents reporting lost revenue from partnerships.


Cultural organisations have quickly proved their capacity for creativity and innovation, by putting a number of processes in place that will allow them to continue working, creating and connecting to their community, throughout this challenging period. 

86% of respondents are working from home, 62% have introduced new technology into their work and 42% are looking towards virtual events. This is new territory for many; with 66% having never delivered digital programs before.

When looking at digital platforms for engagement, there were four dominant ones:

  • Facebook (70%)
  • Zoom (67%)
  • YouTube (50%)
  • Instagram (44%)
  • Other (42%)

Of those delivering virtual events:

  • 61% will not be charging fees
  • 12% will be asking for donations
  • 13% are undecided if they will charge a fee


In this unprecedented time, it is challenging to navigate day-to-day work life and plan ahead. As communities band  together online to share ideas, discuss scenarios and learn from one another, these are the topics that are of most interest to those working for cultural organisations.

  • High Quality Content (79%)
  • Connection to Community (74%)
  • Feelings of Welcome & Inclusion (71%)
  • Stimulating Creativity (65%)

Our own audience research mirrors that of these respondents; with Australian audience data showing community connection as the most important factor in determining perceptions of importance. Where cultural organisations are focused on supporting and connecting community, the economic impact of this pandemic risks the realisation of such outcomes.

Uncertainty is a significant issue for respondents, as is maintaining relationships in a socially distanced environment. When asked about topics that would be most beneficial throughout this period:

  • 68% want to know what the future of the sector looks like
  • 47% of respondents want to know how to engage audiences
  • 44% want to know how to manage and lead while working from home
  • 40% want to know how to present online and what their audience wants regarding online programs
  • 40% want to know what audiences are looking for from online content

Few are better placed to keep us socially connected in a time of social distancing than cultural organisations. From Benjamin Law,

"In our most dire hours, art keeps us sane, lights the dark and ensures we stay human."

We will continue monitoring and updating this survey to track changes over time and assist those in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector.

Download the COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Industries April snapshot >

If you would like some more information about this research and how it may apply to your organisation, please contact us

The COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Industries report was prepared by:

Kristine Genovese, Client Manager, Culture Counts 

Jordan Gibbs, Client Director, Culture Counts

The COVID-19 Impact on Cultural Industries survey was designed in collaboration with Performing Arts Connections Australia. 


Major Matters, News