CNY Arts, Inc.


$15 Million in Losses Projected by September for Arts in CNY

CNY Arts, the regional arts council, examined the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and creative industry across Central New York. A survey was conducted by Research Marketing Strategies between April 20 and May 20. More than 265 artists and nonprofit arts organizations responded. 75% of survey respondents indicated the pandemic was having a severe impact on their livelihoods or organizations.

“We knew the arts community was going to be hit particularly hard because of the pandemic closures. CNY Arts moved quickly to fully understand and quantify the impact of COVID-19,” said Stephen Butler, CNY Arts executive director. “The survey results confirmed our fear that our arts sector was in peril and we need to act fast to help save the arts in our region.”


Survey Key Findings:

  • The combined loss of income, actual and projected, by September 30th is $15 million. Organizations’ losses total $13 million and individual artist losses are $2 million.

  • Agencies reported, on average, they only have an additional 23 weeks of cash reserves. By October these organizations will be stretched to the breaking point. 

  • By April, organizations reported having already eliminated an average of 4 full time jobs from their operations.

  • Without emergency relief, starting now, many arts and cultural organizations will begin to close down permanently.

“The arts and cultural industry reaches into every part of our community”, said Carol Dumka, CNY Arts Board President. “It’s a major contributor to our economy, education, jobs, and overall well-being of people in our region--and also fuels new development.” 

In response to the current and critical needs in the arts, CNY Arts is creating a $1 million relief fund for the arts, cultural, and heritage industry across seven counties in Central New York. The CNY Arts board of directors chose to create a fund at the Central New York Community Foundation to help with this initiative.

The fund will allow for professional management, help with gift administration, and provide expanded capacity such as online giving, pledges, and stock/mutual fund/complex gifts. CNY Arts will be seeking support for the fund from businesses, organizations, and individuals throughout Central New York. 

Contributions can be made at: 
Other giving options or questions regarding The Fund can be directed to Tom Griffith, at the Central New York Community Foundation (  / 315.883.5544) or Stephen Butler at CNY Arts, (

The Payroll Protection Program Loan provided short-term relief to businesses, including some arts organizations and artists. However, normal streams of funding were redirected, put on hold, reduced, or eliminated. 

While some venues, such as museums and historic sites, are beginning to reopen, large performance driven agencies and  many small community-based arts programs are still on pause and have already had to cancel partial or full seasons and events. Those that are reopening are finding that safety protocols and equipment come with  significant costs. Many organizations also turned to virtual streaming to provide art to the community, but this also can be costly and does not generate much income for those agencies. 

The COVID-19 Arts impact survey was conducted with support from the Central New York Community Foundation and The Gifford Foundation. CNY Arts continues to advocate for the arts, culture and heritage sector, sharing survey data with all levels of government, funders, and other stakeholders across the region. 

Visit to learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting the arts sector.