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Survey Results Indicate That 95 Percent of U.S. Artists Have Lost Income Due to COVID-19

Most of the dancers you know have likely seen some, if not all, of their income disappear in the wake of the pandemic. But the initial findings from Americans for the Arts' COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, released today, make it clear that the situation is even bleaker than we may have supposed.

Of the more than 11,000 artists of all disciplines who completed the survey,

  • 95 percent have lost income due to COVID-19.
  • 62 percent have become fully unemployed.
  • 80 percent do not yet have a post-pandemic recovery plan.
Further, 66 percent of respondents say that they cannot access the tools or resources necessary for their creative work.

It's worth bearing in mind that the survey remains open to artists of all stripes. Visual arts have comprised roughly 50 percent of respondents so far. Our field is one of those least represented, with only a little over 1,000 respondents self-identifying as dance artists (7.9 percent of those surveyed).

It's safe to assume that the surveys being conducted by Dance/USA and Dance/NYC will provide a more detailed snapshot of the current state of our field, given their specific focus on dance. However, the statistics being reported by Americans for the Arts are harrowing, and based on anecdotal evidence, there's reason to believe that surveys focusing specifically on dance artists will be equally troubling, if not more so.

These numbers throw into sharp relief the urgent need for artists to be included in recovery efforts. Dance/NYC and Americans for the Arts are still accepting survey responses; filling them out is an easy but important way that you can help—the results are being used to focus advocacy work and direct efforts to where they're needed most. Further suggestions for how to help out-of-work dance artists can be found here, and our list of resources is being continually updated here.

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Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, courtesy the MacDougal family.

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

February 2021