You may not realize it, but “unemployed” artists are all around you. Unemployment looks somewhat different for artists, because many of us don’t have “normal” or steady jobs to begin with. Many artists work part time doing other things, but when the economy has been slammed, as COVID19 is affecting the economy right, artists may not be working anywhere at all.
What unemployment means to other full-time artists is simply that the economy is bad and things are not selling as before. Since the coronavirus started, this is happening to many artists, including me. For visual artists, it means all our art fairs and art walks and other public art events we used to be present at have been cancelled, and this is an important source of income for many artists. Even our basic art exhibits have been cancelled.
Then there is this article for another perspective.
A large majority of U.S. arts organizations have postponed or canceled performances, exhibitions, or events and 62 percent of working artists have become fully unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys conducted by Americans for the Arts find.
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According to the organization, estimated financial losses at nonprofit arts and cultural organizations across the country had reached $5.5 billion as of May 18. Organizations also are down some 210 million admissions due to canceled events, resulting in a $6.7 billion loss in event-related spending at local businesses (including dining, lodging, and retail establishments). The economic impact of the losses includes $2 billion in lost government revenue and 348,000 jobs no longer being supported.
The surveys also found that artists/creatives have been among the most severely affected of all workers by the crisis. Of the 62 percent who have become fully unemployed in the months since the pandemic was declared a national emergency, the average financial loss per artist/creative worker is $21,000. Nationally, the collective blow to artists’ income in 2020 is expected to surpass $50 billion.”