Dallas Arts Organizations Lose Nearly $68M

Furloughs surpass 1,200 as leaders scratch up funding, explore new ways to reengage with their audiences

COVID-19 pandemic-related financial and job losses are rapidly mounting for the nonprofit arts and cultural business sector in the city of Dallas, according to the results of the latest survey by the arts advocacy organizations The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), Dallas Arts District (DAD), and Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC).

Responses from 91 participating organizations show the sector suffered nearly $68 million in total financial losses in the four-and-a-half month period from March 13 through July 31. 

“It’s really pretty simple. Everyone is trying to find enough cash so we can live to fight another day.”

Joanna St. Angelo

“All of these organizations are just struggling to hold on,” said Terry D. Loftis, president and executive director of the arts funding organization TACA. TACA has distributed $592,500 in emergency COVID relief grants to 70 groups. “The philanthropic community is certainly working to step up and help, but these losses are staggering. And given the rate they are growing, we’ve got a huge challenge to overcome.” 

While many Dallas businesses have reopened, capacity limits and social-distancing have kept arts and cultural organizations from resuming live, in-person experiences. This has meant canceling or postponing thousands of programs, performances, and classes. 

The human toll is climbing as well. 1,219 people have been furloughed or laid off through July 31, up from 649 at the end of May – 189 of these were full-time staff members, and 1,030 were part-time. 

These new job losses had been anticipated as funds from the forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans under the federal CARES Act began running out in June and July. These funds had allowed organizations to keep paying employees for two months.

These new job losses had been anticipated as funds from the forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans under the federal CARES Act began running out in June and July. These funds had allowed organizations to keep paying employees for two months.

Despite the daunting numbers, the survey also indicated some optimism for reopening soon.

Several Dallas museums are reopening, and some music organizations have started performing for small audiences.

Organizations are also working to find new ways to reinvent how they deliver their cultural offerings, art forms, and reengage with audiences. 

One group is even staging drive-in theatrical performances in parking lots across North Texas. “This community is creative and resilient – two things that are critical to surviving a crisis like this,” said Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District. “I’m convinced we will find ways to get back in front of our audiences and out into the community – and do it safely. The arts will play an important role in the recovery of our economy and healing our community, and I’m optimistic Dallas will find the resources to help us do that. There’s too much at stake.”

Click here for more news content


For nearly 40 years, People Newspapers has worked tirelessly to tell the stories—good, bad, and sublime—of our neighbors in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. To support our efforts, please contact advertise@peoplenewspapers.com for advertising opportunities. Please also consider sharing this story with your friends and social media followers.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *