Pandemic drama

San Antonio creative sector closes curtain on 15,639 jobs due to COVID-19 economy

San Antonio creative sector closes curtain on 15,639 jobs due to COVID

San Antonio Symphony presents Fiesta Pops
Local arts organizations have been hard hit by the pandemic economy. Photo courtesy of Tobin Center

Cue the sad violin solo. From April through July, the pandemic hammered San Antonio's creative sector to the tune of 15,639 jobs and $552 million in sales, a new report shows.

The report, which examines the economic impact of COVID-19, was published August 11 by the Brookings Institution think tank. It estimates that during the four-month span from April 1 through July 31, San Antonio racked up a cumulative 32.8 percent loss of jobs and a cumulative 11 percent loss in sales connected to the creative sector. 

According to the Texas Cultural Trust, 6 percent of the local workforce was employed in the creative sector in 2017. That includes fine arts, performing arts, music, film, fashion, and design.

Among Texas metro areas, San Antonio experienced the biggest percentage drops in both jobs and sales during the four-month period covered by the report.

“The creative economy — which is so critical to our overall economy, our society, and our culture — is under grave threat from the COVID-19 crisis,” the report says. “Imagine our cities and communities devoid of arts and culture, with no concerts, no theaters, and no art galleries. For the creative economy to survive and thrive again, a broad-based recovery strategy is needed.”

Obviously, the city's creative sector isn’t alone. Here are the estimated cumulative losses for April through July in the state’s three other major metros:

  • Austin — 28,852 jobs (32.6 percent) and $1.26 billion in sales (9.2 percent). According to the Texas Cultural Trust, 11.1 percent of the local workforce was employed in the creative sector in 2017.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth — 62,485 jobs (31.1 percent decline) and nearly $2.77 billion in sales (9.5 percent decline). According to the Texas Cultural Trust, 8.5 percent of the region’s workforce was employed in the creative sector in 2017.
  • Houston — 42,587 jobs (32.5 percent loss) and nearly $1.6 billion in sales (10.6 percent loss). The trust says 7.6 percent of the Houston area’s workforce was employed in the creative sector in 2017.