The Pittsburgh Foundation

Themes Heard from Arts and Culture Providers

Below is what the Foundation's Program and Policy department staff heard after reaching out to nonprofit food providers to better understand their concerns, challenges and needs to inform our most immediate grantmaking, convening and public policy activities.


Organizations have already or are planning to furlough staff and reduce salaries.

“We are furloughing workers whose jobs require physical access to the building and cannot be performed during this time. We are continuing to provide compensation for those who will be furloughed so that they receive their full payment through the end of April and /or May 2020, depending on their current employment status.”

Canceled events, exhibitions, presentations and performances are leading to a loss of expected earned income, and many ticket holders are requesting event or subscription refunds.

“We are only days into this crisis, and already we are facing cash losses of over $450,000.”

Facilities are closing and cannot operate in the spaces, but organizations must pay rent and back-rent. Additionally, organizations are losing membership dues as a result of lack of facility use and programming.

“The losses from these cancellations, the forced pause in our subscription renewal campaign, and the anticipated impact of lost contributed revenue have been seismic to the financial health of our organization.”

Organizations are unsure that Small Business Administration loans will be sufficient. 

“We’re grateful for the loan...but what happens if this goes on longer? Will we eventually have to file for bankruptcy?”

Organizations are delaying much-anticipated capital campaigns and fundraisers.

“Funders have not been responsive or proactive. I just need some level of confirmation that we will still be supported, and promises will be kept.”

Reserves, if any, are being depleted.

“We are fortunate to have a little bit of reserve, but we will be in a critical position soon.”

Organizations worry that they may not be in existence after the crisis is averted.

“The majority of funders decreased funding to arts organizations during the recession in 2008. Will this happen again? How do we adjust and adapt to a new era with people who will be hesitant to be physically present?”


The lack of support for individual artists was not adequate prior to the virus.

“We are like a family who lives paycheck to paycheck...and it’s a very small paycheck.”

There are concerns about the welfare of artists, musicians, part-time workers, contractors, etc., due to loss of income from canceled gigs, exhibitions, performances and presentations.

“Everybody will eventually reschedule programming. We will load up on programming in fall and spring [2021], which will flood the market.”

Teaching artists are losing their main sources of income.

“Schools are precarious and unorganized. Many schools are not honoring previous commitments that were never enough to begin with. A significant amount of teaching artists rely on music work for income; everything is very in flux at the moment.

There is a lack of mental/health care for artists.

“A lot of us don’t have it, because we can’t afford it. What happens if I get sick?”

Recommendations for Providing Support to the Arts and Culture Community

  • Provide operating support to organizations to address unexpected costs and keep artists employed when revenues are not being generated.
  • Support existing arts and culture institutions that provide emergency funding for individuals and organizations and convene and coordinate their responses to this and future crisis.
  • Consolidate and share resources to support organizations in the short- and long-term. 
  • Understand the diversity of arts and culture landscape and the need to equitably support all.
  • Encourage the array of supports arts and culture institutions need – from necessary funding to technical assistance to health care.