Survey: Oklahoma arts & cultural organizations lose millions during COVID-19 pandemic


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new survey by Allied Arts details just how much central Oklahoma’s arts and cultural organizations suffered during this pandemic. 

“The pandemic has been really rough on us,” said Rick Allen Lippert, with Carpenter Square Theatre. 

We’ve all missed our movies, concerts, museums, and live entertainment in the last year. 

It’s been an even tougher road for those behind these events. 

“During those weeks and months, it was, it was sad,” said Natalie Shirley with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 

The Allied Arts surveyed 30 local organizations and calculated a total loss of over $33 million due to the pandemic. 

“Some budgets have been cut to where they were 5, 10, 20 years ago,” said Allied Arts Campaign and Grants Director, Jennifer Bryan. 

Those surveyed in the industry estimate over 500 Oklahomans lost their jobs, and the groups also lost about 2 million audience members. 

“We’re built to be in the people gathering business, and no one was here,” said Shirley. 

According to those surveyed, two cultural non-profits were forced to close their doors and four others now have zero reserve. 

“It’s not only recovery, how to recover those lost funds, but moving forward because we project a 3-5 year period to get back to where we were pre-covid,” said Bryan. 

Despite years of recovery ahead, the hope and creativity are still alive. 

“We can only watch so much tv, so many movies, so many performances on zoom … but there’s nothing that compares to watching another live human being just feet away,” said Allen Lippert. 

Zoom shows, social media campaigns, and outdoor events have kept some organizations above water and they’re hoping to keep that momentum as they start to once again host in-person visitors. 

“Theater is resilient by its very nature, it’s existed for thousands of years and it’s going to continue to thrive and survive,” said Allen Lippert. 

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“Cultural organizations bring life to what we do and who we are,” said Shirley. 

The Allied Arts is running their annual campaign. You can donate here

The OKC Festival of the Arts also kicks off tomorrow.

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