Economic impact data compiled by AAM and Oxford Economics shows that museums contribute $50 billion a year to the US economy; support 726,000 jobs annually; and generate $12 billion in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments. Museums are economic engines and play an essential role in the nation's educational infrastructure, spending more than $2 billion a year on education. They are also community anchors, addressing challenges in times of crisis.
Museums of all sizes are experiencing closure, attendance drop-offs, canceled events, and possible or actual layoffs in certain areas. Declines in international and domestic tourism, declines in local attendance, and increases in social-distancing will have a devastating impact on the museum community which operates on thin margins of financial sustainability.
Currently, most museums are experiencing higher unanticipated costs related to increased sanitation labor and cleaning supplies to help prevent the virus' spread while maintaining operations. Many museums also may need to cope with costs of moving employees to remote work and there are field-wide concerns, especially about the lowest paid and hourly staff potentially being hit the hardest.
In addition to losses in earned revenue, museums are expecting lost charitable contributions as donors reassess their capacity to give due to the stock market's volatility.
Unfortunately, the Alliance expects hardships to be faced by an increasing number of museums in communities spread across the country in the months ahead, underscoring the need for museums to be included in any economic stimulus relief.
On a positive note, museums are the most trusted source of information in America, rated higher than local papers, nonprofit researchers, the US government, or academic researchers. Museums can take advantage of this high level of public trust to provide education on COVID-19 and fight misinformation about its spread. By empowering the public with the information they need to lower their risk of contracting or spreading disease, museums can help sustain healthy communities, maintain calm, and reduce the chances for an increase in discrimination or xenophobia often created by global diseases.
The Alliance will continue to inform and activate the museum community. Thank you for your advocacy.
Be safe and healthy.