In Winter 2020, prior to the pandemic, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship launched a research project exploring creative entrepreneurship spanning freelance artists and collectives to large and internationally-competitive firms and the role of creative entrepreneurship and labour in the innovation economy. As we write up our findings, the economic, cultural, and social landscape has changed dramatically, albeit potentially temporarily.
Creative businesses and organizations have been hit hard and directly by the 2020 pandemic and public health rules forbidding public gatherings, events, and non-essential in-person work. Early statistics from the April 2020 Labour Force Survey reported the largest employment declines in industries that involve public-facing activities where physical contact is required, or limited ability to work from home. Employment in the Information, Culture, and Recreation sector decreased by 23.8 percent between February and April, while overall hours worked fell by 37.5 percent including within performing arts and related industries, consistent with the cancellation of in-person events, and second only in sectoral decline to the Accomodation and Food Services sectors (-23.9 percent /-63.8 percent).
Many who are solo self-employed are experiencing deteriorating business conditions: 59.4 percent (1.2 million people) of solo self-employed people across all sectors reported working less than half of their usual hours during the reference week, including 38.4 percent who did not work any hours. Creative businesses and organizations with offices, studios, and storefronts are experiencing the same well-documented financial challenges as other commercial renters during a period of reduced or closed operations. The impacts of the pandemic will likely be felt by the creative community for an extended period of time. As Music Canada reports, bookings for 2021 are far lower than usual for many music professionals, with many not expecting a return to the stage soon, due to government restrictions or personal risk assessment of performing with the virus still present. Physical distancing has also had an impact on collaboration and co-creation, with limitations on shared studio, practice, and gathering space access.