How could a recession affect the performing arts?

CTV and the Financial Post recently speculated about a possible recession in Canada as early as 2023. As we have already experienced the resilience and change of the performing arts during the pandemic, how could a possible recession impact it? any further?

“Recessions tend to have a range of impacts, primarily with the expected impact of a decrease in the number of people spending money on entertainment. of its budget to justify itself as a worthwhile expense rather than a necessity,” says Gavin McDonald, assistant professor in the theater department.

While this may be the case, Dr Sarah Bay-Cheng, Dean of the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design, adds that “during the Great Depression of the 1930s and after the financial crisis of 2008 , some artistic and cultural institutions flourished. Despite the effects of the Depression, 1930s Hollywood is considered the golden age of cinema.

“Broadway theaters were hit harder as producers lost money in the stock market crash of 1929, and in Canada major national tours dwindled. But the move away from expensive large-scale productions has created opportunities for small shows and new businesses to start up and experiment with new styles,” Bay-Cheng continues.

McDonald also adds that “great work can be done and is often driven by tough times. We have also seen and will continue to see partnerships evolve between physical businesses and unlocated businesses looking for accommodation. These co-productions can help both companies financially and create great works that they probably wouldn’t have considered in their own silos.

Bay-Cheng speculates, “York theater and film students are getting unprecedented professional opportunities because there is such demand for production right now. But, as we have seen with music, live productions exist within a mediated production ecosystem. In the event of a severe economic downturn, will people be content to stay at home consuming exclusively screen performance? I am not sure.”

But what does all of this mean for the arts within the York community?

Lisette Canton, associate professor in the music department, explains that a recession following the pandemic will have a dramatic impact on the arts in York due to the closure of several arts organizations, organizations that are expensively moving to digital broadcasting, people leaving the arts or taking on work in other fields, and the educational arts training that has been lost in recent years.

Performing arts across all genres will take several years to recover from the impacts of the challenges we face, with the necessary public and private sector support, as well as a commitment to fostering and developing the artistic community of York at earlier levels. of success,” says Canton.

“Amid the difficulties of the pandemic, artists have found creative ways to reach their audiences and a potential recession will be no different. It is our duty, however, to ensure the growth and sustainability of the performing arts in the future,” they continue.

Bay-Cheng adds that “recessions have been times of some of the greatest performance innovation in the past, but it will be important to ensure that workers in the arts are supported.

I am optimistic about the future of the performing arts in Canada because I have seen what our students have accomplished over the past two years, not only in their creative work, but also in fighting social injustices through their art. The ability to work creatively and across disciplines, to imagine and invent new ways of working, and to create new collaborations and communities in pursuit of these goals will be essential skills for thriving in the midst of the recession.