The great pivot of 2020 and beyond
By Bob Abelman
The arts were devastated in the wake of COVID-19. Since the initial shuttering of venues in March 2020, it has been reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that over 1.4 million arts related jobs nationwide were lost. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey, arts, entertainment and recreation enterprises are among the most likely to take longer to recover from the pandemic due to the in-person nature of their programming.
“To non-theater lovers,” wrote Cleveland-born actor Joel Grey in an opinion piece in The New York Times shortly after the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, “lamenting the closing of Broadway in the face of so much widespread suffering may seem, at best, frivolous. But for many of us, this tragedy has been made that much more devastating by having to face the nightmare without the laughter, tears and sense of community that a night in the theater delivers.”
Because the show couldn’t go on, many performing artists found interim work outside their chosen profession that not only paid the bills, but were an intriguing application of their innate creativity and well-honed artistic talents. Canvas asked some members of the local arts community about their pivot during the pandemic. Here are a few of their stories.