National Arts and Culture Impact Survey (NACIS)

Visual for the Survey

Most arts and culture organizations are holding on for now, but very high stress levels suggest that the impact of the pandemic aren’t just economic, according to the newly released results of the November 2020 National Arts and Culture Impact Survey (NACIS). The survey results painted an overall picture of short-term economic and psychological fall-out, the value and reach of key government interventions, an impressive level of resourcefulness and creativity, and longer-term questions about the sustainability and appeal of careers in the sector after this seismic shock.

The NACIS was co-commissioned by a group of 30 national and provincial arts service organizations representing a range of artistic disciplines. The survey was designed to capture a snapshot in time of arts organizations, artists, and arts workers across Canada.

The survey was open from November 3 to 23, 2020. In total, 1,273 individuals and 728 organizations from across Canada completed the survey, for a total of 2,001 responses. PRA Inc., an independent research firm with offices in Winnipeg and Ottawa, was retained to administer and report on the survey.

Download the Reports:

Key Findings

Here are some key findings that emerged from the NACIS data:

1) One in two organizations had positive experiences with digital programming, but many respondents indicated that going digital is not right for them.

  • A majority of individuals and organizations agree that digital programming is necessary (59% and 65% respectively). However almost one in two (44% and 48% respectively) indicated that they lack access to the necessary equipment for the digital pivot.
  • 62% of organizations went digital between August and October, and 80% reported that the experience either met or exceeded their expectations.
  • Interestingly, respondents had mixed opinions on the role of digital programming in advancing artistic practices. And a significant proportion indicated that going digital is NOT right for them (28% of organizations and 36% of individuals).

2) Organizations are fairly optimistic, given the circumstances, while individual artists and arts workers are uncertain about their future in the arts

  • Respondents were much more optimistic about the ability of their own organization to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 (67%) than they are about the ability of the industry as a whole to recover (42%). This is a positive sign. 
  • However, individual respondents anticipate an 18-month recovery period and as many as one in three are uncertain about their future in the arts.

3) Government support through the pandemic is generally positively perceived

  • Perceptions of government emergency support programs were in general quite positive.
  • Nine in ten individuals had received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the same proportion of organizations had received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
  • About half of respondents commented on gaps in support programs such as eligibility and clarity or the need for more funding.  

4) Very high stress and anxiety levels suggest that the impact of the pandemic isn’t just economic

  • Over three in four individuals and organizations reported very high or high levels of anxiety (76% and 79% respectively).
  • This is three times greater than self-reported levels of anxiety before COVID-19 (26% and 25% respectively).
  • Over three times as many individuals AND organizations report very high or high levels of stress and anxiety today (79%) as compared to before COVID-19 (25%). 

As arts service organizations, we’re concerned not only for the impact on our sector, but for the long-term effect on Canadian communities – and we’ll use these insights to shape our advocacy, strategy, and programming moving forward.” – Katherine Carleton, C.M., Executive Director, Orchestras Canada

Who is Behind the NACIS?

The NACIS was co-commissioned by a group of national and provincial arts service organizations representing a range of artistic disciplines across Canada:

  • Alberta Craft Council
  • Alberta Dance Alliance
  • Alberta Magazine Publishers Association
  • Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society
  • Alberta Media Production Industries Association
  • Alberta Music
  • Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta
  • Atlantic Presenters Association
  • Association des groupes en arts visuels francophones (AGAVF)
  • Association for Opera in Canada (formerly
  • Book Publishers Association of Alberta
  • Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA)
  • Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
  • Choral Canada
  • Dance Ontario
  • Dance Umbrella of Ontario
  • Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA)
  • Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF)
  • Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)
  • Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG)
  • Ontario Culture Days
  • Ontario Presents
  • Orchestras Canada 
  • Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)
  • Playwrights Guild of Canada
  • Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta (RAFA)
  • Theatre Alberta
  • Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)
  • WorkInCulture
  • Writers’ Guild of Alberta