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Art and sport sector revenue was cut in half during the pandemic

Many businesses in the art and sport sector continue to face challenges

By ATB Economics 25 March 2021 2 min read

As is often the case with economic data, the view behind us is relatively clear while the picture of what’s next is not.

This is certainly true when it comes to the impact of the pandemic on the arts and spectator sports.

New data from Statistics Canada show that the combined operating revenue of four slices of the larger arts and sports pie* was $1.2 billion in Alberta in 2019. Total revenue was $10.5 billion in the country as a whole.

This is a significant amount of economic activity, but what we really need to know at the moment is how these businesses were affected by the pandemic and when they will recover.

To this end, Statistics Canada is providing advance estimates for 2020 suggesting that “operating revenue for spectator sports, event promoters, artists and related industries will have decreased by around 50 per cent in 2020. Owing to its preliminary nature, this figure is expected to be revised when survey data are collected and provide a complete picture of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While some artists and artistic enterprises may have been able to dodge the ill effects of the pandemic, those that rely on in-person contact and the gathering of people in a physical space faced tremendous challenges.

The same goes for spectator sports. Playing in mostly empty venues was better than not playing at all, but revenue from tickets and concession sales collapsed.

With public health restrictions still very much in play, many businesses in the art and sport sector continue to face challenges. Vaccines and herd immunity offer hope, but it will take some time before the damage is repaired and this important segment of our economy can start to grow again.

On a less gloomy front, the latest series of ATB’s The Future Of podcast examines the economic importance of the arts and culture sector, how it has adapted during COVID and how it might evolve and grow in the years ahead.

*The four sub-sectors in question are part of the broader “arts, entertainment and recreation” sector and include North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes 7112 (spectator sports), 7113 (promoters/presenters of performing arts, sports and similar events), 7114 (agents and managers for artists, athletes, entertainers and other public figures) and 7115 (Independent artists, writers and performers). The data exclude performing arts companies and independent musical artists (NAICS code 7111). They also exclude movie theatres (which are part of the information and cultural industries sector).

Answer to the previous trivia question: Tennis star Roger Federer was the highest paid athlete in the world in 2020, earning a reported US$ 106.3 million (mostly from endorsements).

Today’s trivia question: The 65,890-capacity Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida was the site of the 2021 NFL Super Bowl. How many people were allowed to attend the event in light of pandemic restrictions?

The combined operating revenue of four slices of the arts and sports pie was $1.2 billion in Alberta in 2019

The combined operating revenue of four slices of the arts and sports pie was $1.2 billion in Alberta in 2019


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