Already in April, a first study by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) sounded the alarm: in one month of confinement, the 35,000 museums had lost 4.5 billion dollars (3.8 billion euros). Eight months later, the deficit generated by the Covid-19 pandemic is even more dizzying. According to the new survey published Tuesday, November 17 by the AAM, these institutions would have lost, on average, 850,000 dollars, or a total of 29.75 billion dollars!
The timing of the publication of the AAM inquiry, in the aftermath of the US elections, which brought Democrat Joe Biden to the presidency, may not owe anything to chance. In the spring, as Congress was preparing to adopt a stimulus plan to help businesses overcome containment, the museums demanded assistance of $ 4 billion, claiming their economic weight – 726,000 direct and indirect jobs and 50 billion dollars in spinoffs. In response, they were ultimately only awarded $ 150 million.
Violent drop in the ticket office
At the end of the line, the president of AAM, Laura Lott, even got off the hook in October, when Donald Trump decided to stop negotiations on aid funds. “Incomprehensible and irresponsible”, she thundered in a statement, recalling that “Museum advocates across the country have sent over 50,000 letters to their elected officials to make them aware of the desperate need to ensure the future stability of [leur] economy. “ Today, she accuses, in a press release, Congress of having “Betrayed the museums”.
The report, timely published during the transition period, states that by the end of the year, large and small American museums will have lost the equivalent of 35% of their operating budgets. “The current situation is not tenable, especially since more than half of the museums have less than six months of savings to survive”, alert Susie Wilkening, director of the audit firm that conducted the survey in October, among 850 museums. “Without financial assistance, we could see thousands of museums closed forever”, adds Laura Lott.
Today, nearly 30% of American museums are closed to the public; 40% of them are even unable to indicate a precise date of reopening. As for those which reopened this summer, they are running on average at 35% of their capacity. However, in the face of the increase in Covid-19 cases, Washington museums will close their doors on Monday, November 23. Similar steps have been taken by the governors of Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota.
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