Up to now, paid employment at performing arts companies has held up pretty well in the downturn. In 2010 the number of jobs at music, theater, dance, and similar groups was only about 6% below the 2007 level, a decent performance considering the depth of the downturn.
But in the last few months cuts in funding seem to have finally hit hard. Over the past year, employment at performing arts companies has dropped a sharp 16%, according to today’s figures from the BLS. Performing arts employment is now at the lowest level since 1990.
The chart below shows the year over year change in performing arts employment, based on a 3-month moving average.
In all likelihood, this will not be the end of the decline, since funding is still being cut.For example, the Alabama State Council on the Arts has cut its grants to state arts groups by 25% for the next fiscal year. For the performing arts, this is the moment where recession turns into depression.