Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cultural Funding Declines 11 Percent as Recession Begins

The Denver cultural community has been especially hard hit by COVID-19 with their organizations’ dependent on visitors and audiences, many in close quarters for extended stays. Although some have adapted with virtual programs and performances, income streams have collapsed across-the-board in many cases with most venues closed since mid-March.

Fortunately for the six-county Denver region, a modest sales tax has been collected and distributed to cultural facilities and programs for over 30 years. In 2019, more than $60 million was distributed. But, of course, like all sales taxes, collections are now falling. The organization in charge of distribution of the funds and management of the district – the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) – reports that year-to-date collections in March were down 2.5 percent compared to 2019. The April year-to-date collections fell 4.9 percent.

The monthly drop is a more dramatic comparison because the January to mid-March revenue was collected before the shutdown. But an April-to-April comparison shows an 11 percent revenue decline below 2019 collections. The recession during 2008 to 2009 took months to develop whereas this collapse took weeks. The drop in sales tax revenue in the region during the Great Recession equated 13 percent. Most economists believe this decline will be at least as substantial and a slow recovery in the offing well into 2021.

The Denver Zoo reopens to public June 12 with social distancing
and other safety rules in effect | Hart Van Denburg/CPR News   

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