Brookings: R.I.’s arts sector lost over 10K jobs, $436M in sales from April to July

PROVIDENCE – Arts and culture industries took a blow when the coronavirus pandemic hit America’s shores.

In Rhode Island, home to the Creative Capital and where the arts sector contributes more than $2 billion each year to the state’s economy, COVID-19 had a devastating impact, according to a newly published report by The Brookings Institution.

From April to July, the state’s creative industries lost 10,077 jobs and lost sales added up to more than $436 million, according to the report.

“This report documents how, in just four short months, the arts sector nationwide, and in Rhode Island, has literally ground to a halt,” said Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, in a recent announcement. “Theaters and concert halls and museums were shuttered, and artists and cultural workers lost their livelihoods.”

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In the Providence metropolitan area alone, which includes parts of Massachusetts, 14,128 were left jobless and lost sales added up to $604 million from April to July, according to the report.

“Arts jobs are jobs, and our greatest challenge is providing our state’s artists and arts organizations with the resources they need to survive,” said Rosenbaum. “We must ensure the arts return to contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our state.”

Photographers took the largest cumulative hit nationwide, reportedly losing more than 21% of their monthly earnings, according to the report, while nearly 17% of photographers were left jobless. Musicians and singers were not far behind, losing more than 15% of their monthly earnings as about 11% were left jobless, followed by America’s writers and authors, who lost approximately 8% of their monthly earnings, with more than 7% left jobless.

The Brookings institution estimated nationwide losses mounting to more than 2.3 million jobs and $74 billion in average monthly earnings for the creative occupations.

Alexa Gagosz is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at