Episode 1: Will the Pandemic Permanently Change the Arts Sector?

Episode 1: Will the Pandemic Permanently Change the Arts Sector?

As a society, we tend to both love and hate our arts sector. Love them, because we do value the contributions that music and visual arts and theater and film make to our lives particularly now. In the midst of this pandemic, how many lives have been brightened, even if for a minute, by watching Andrea Bocelli perform at the Duomo in Milan on Easter Sunday, or by seeing an impromptu concert by a fiddler on Twitter? But there is clearly some there as well, because so much of the sector operates on a shoestring, perilously close to bankruptcy, even when the economy is robust.  Not that it is not an economic contributor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts, the arts contribute $763 to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation or warehousing. In Canada, Statistics Canada estimates that the direct economic impact of culture products was $53.1 billion in Canada in 2017, which is about 2.7 per cent of overall GDP. About 18.8 million jobs in the country, of 3.5 per cent of the total, are in arts.

Now, of course the overall economy is anything but robust and the lights are out on most of the arts sector. There is no easy way to create a socially-distant orchestra performance, and even if a socially-distant audience was possible it is hard to see how that could bring in enough money to make the whole thing worthwhile. Coming on top of an industry that has operated with a fragile business model for years, does this mean the end of many organizations? Or does it mean that we have to re-think the business model completely? It certainly means re-imagining the roles of those who work in it, perhaps compensating them differently, or creating different jobs or embracing different skill sets.

Our guests in this episode speak with passion about their concerns about the arts, and about their vision as to where the industry might be post-pandemic.



Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Principal, Wolf Brown

Victoria Plettner-Saunders is an arts research, planning, and strategy consultant with 30 years experience in the non-profit arts and culture sector. Currently she is a Principal with WolfBrown, an international consulting firm with experience in fundraising, marketing, planning, research, evaluation, program design, and arts education. Before joining WolfBrown, Victoria managed her own private consulting practice, v.p.s. cartographie, for 12 years serving the nonprofit arts and culture sector with “navigational” assistance for organizations and individuals.

Victoria’s deep interest in the creative workforce has led to published articles for the University of Oregon’s CultureWork including, most recently, a look back on her previous articles in Coming of Age: A Decade of Change in the American Arts Workforce. In addition to her research on arts workforce-related issues and generational differences in the workplace, she has supported professional and career development for the next generation of arts managers. In addition, she is the Creative Director of ArtCareerCafe.com, a job search website that helps connect qualified, passionate arts job seekers with employers, provides career transition coaching for those making a change, and provides hiring services for organizations in need of assistance with employee searches


Katherine Carleton

Executive Director, Orchestras Canada


Katherine Carleton, C.M., has worked in the music field in Canada for over 30 years, as a clarinetist, teacher, academic administrator, granting officer and orchestra manager. She became Executive Director of Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada in 2005.

Katherine has a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s degree in Management from McGill University through the McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders. She was named as a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2016.

Katherine focuses on OC’s advocacy, research, conference and workshop planning, and member advice.


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