ArtsNow director addresses challenges, looks forward in ‘State of the Arts’

A lot has happened since Akron’s first cultural plan was launched in 2019 — namely a worldwide pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the arts and culture sector generated more than $1.4 billion in economic activity in the Akron area, Nicole Mullet, executive director for ArtsNow, said in her “State of the Arts” talk Thursday at the Akron Roundtable. The sector employed more than 17,000 people and generated more than $768 million in wages and income in the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area.

But when the pandemic hit in 2020, more than one-third of creative jobs were lost in Ohio that year, the arts leader said.

“The pandemic devastated our arts and culture sector,” Mullet said at the event at Quaker Station at the University of Akron. “Revenues declined precipitously as a result of mandatory closures. Our arts and culture organizations and artists, who were already managing a financially fragile situation, were particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis and the disruption of business.”

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