The US report “For a Resilient US Theater—Report and Recommendations” is part of Pandemic Preparedness in the Live Performing Arts, a comparative transnational study on the resilience of theater post-COVID pandemic, funded by the British Academy.

Between April 2023 and January 2024, a UK-led research team with partners in the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan surveyed the lessons learned from the responses of the live performing arts sector and governments to COVID-19.

The aim was to support sector preparedness for future crises, whether caused by new pandemics, climate-related disasters, demographic changes, economic pressures or the impacts on the live performing arts of national and international politics.

UCLA researchers examined the unique context of the US theater sector and came up with a series of recommendations designed to help artists, advocates, and funders build on successes during the pandemic — including increased cooperation and thinking about audience accessibility — in order to move arts and culture forward into a more resilient future.

Lessons from the Pandemic

As everyday life ground to a halt, the world’s cultural landscape underwent a seismic shift. The pandemic revealed the fault lines in cultural policy while exacerbating existing problems and inequalities, particularly evident in the challenges facing the live performing arts in the aftermath of the lockdowns.

More than anything else, the study suggests that governments must recognize the value of culture, which was key to maintaining population wellbeing, combatting isolation and creating more resilient communities during lockdown. This idea needs to be at the heart of policymaking not just for the sector, but for pandemic recovery more broadly.

By learning from the differing national responses, we can pave the way for a more robust and sustainable future for the live performing arts sector, ensuring it is better equipped to navigate an uncertain future.

Learn more about the transnational research results here:

This research is supported by the British Academy’s Pandemic Preparedness: Lessons to Learn from COVID-19 across the G7 Award.

The challenges of the theater sector in the US are those of US society more generally: individualism and a dearth of collective endeavor; precarization of workers; decreased investment in the commons; political polarization, social isolation.

Yet theater has an opportunity now to make its case in relation to post-pandemic revitalization efforts…

Read the full US report here: