Creative Economy in Illinois and COVID-19 Impact

The Creative Economy is Big Business in Illinois

$30 Billion approx.

generated annually in Illinois by the creative economy, accounting for a larger part of the annual GSP than construction or agriculture.1


creative workers in Illinois.1


creative businesses in Illinois.2

$480 million approx.

in revenue generated to local and state government from spending by Illinois nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences.3

COVID-19 is Devastating Illinois’s Creative Economy

$5.3 billion cumulative losses for Illinois creative industries through July 2020 (est.), making Illinois one of the states with the highest  loss of creative industry revenue in the nation.4

96% of Illinois arts and culture organizations report having had to cancel events, leading to an average loss of 1000 attendees per organization.7

$363,550 average financial loss per arts and culture organization in Illinois.5

68% Illinois creative organizations  expect to be severely impacted by COVID-19.7

104,618 Unemployed creative industry workers in Illinois as a result of COVID-19, making Illinois one of the states with the  highest  loss of creative industry workers in the nation.4

63% of Illinois’s creative organizations reported having laid off or furloughed creative workers and staff.7

371% annual increase

In unemployment insurance (UI) claims in Arts, Entertainment, Sport & Media occupations in Illinois  since December 2019. This is far higher than the annual increase in UI claims across all industries and occupations in Illinois (238%).6

8.5% Decrease

in shares of giving for arts and culture in 2020, the largest such decline in the last decade. 2020 saw record levels of giving; however, in areas like education, human services, and the environment (Giving USA)

66% of unemployed artists that self reported are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) versus 52% of white artists.8

20% more revenue loss among smaller BIPOC arts and culture organizations compared to their predominantly white counterparts.5

The Creative Sector Makes Communities Stronger

90% of Americans believe that arts and cultural facilities are important for their community’s quality of life.9

72% of Americans believe the arts unify our communities, regardless of age, race, or ethnicity.9

$35.08 is the amount each Illinois nonprofit arts and cultural event attendee spends beyond the ticket cost on meals, retail, parking, lodging, local transportation, childcare, and souvenirs. These dollars provide vital income to local merchants, energize the downtown, and pay salaries and wages in non-arts sectors. This is more than $2 billion in ancillary spending in Illinois directly because of cultural events and almost $480 million revenue generated to local and state government.3

Creative Workers Stand Ready to Aid Recovery

76% of artists have used their art to raise moral and create community cohesion during the pandemic.10

83% of creative workers are ready to put their creative practice to use as part of national recovery.10

89% of Illinois arts nonprofits have been delivering artistic content to raise community spirits during social distancing/quarantine.7

The Creative Engine Can Power America’s Recovery!

1. Information from the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account
(ACPSA). Retrieved from
2. Americans for the Arts (AFTA), The Creative Industries in Illinois, 2017.
3. Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic
Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations and Their Audiences in
the State of Illinois, 2017.
4. Richard Florida and Michael Seman, Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19’s
Devastating Impact on America’s Creative Economy, Metropolitan Policy
Program, Brookings, August 2020, p.12.
5. Arts Alliance Illinois, “Arts Alliance COVID Impact Survey Data,” accessed
February 1.
6. Data source: Illinois Department of Employment Security. Analysis: Arts
Alliance Illinois.
7. Americans for the Arts, “The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Arts and
Culture Sector,” accessed on February 10, 2021.
8. Isaac Fitzsimons, Americans for the Arts, email to Aisha Motlani, Arts Alliance, January 29, 2021.
9. Americans for the Arts, Americans Speak Out About The Arts in 2018: An In-
Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes About the Arts in America, September 2018.
10. Americans for the Arts, “The COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and CreativeWorkers,” accessed on February 15, 2021.