Arts in Post 9/11 America

September 11, 2001: The United States World Trade Center in New York City was attacked and destroyed by terrorists. It was a tragedy that would affect not just the United States, but the world for the next decade. It still has an impact today.

We mourned the loss of lives. War was waged on terrorism. The conflict in the Middle East intensified.

We all know the rest of the story.


Here’s something you might not have asked:

How did the attack on 9/11 affect the Arts Industry?

To start, Americans in a post 9/11 world were hesitant to travel. The arts, in all parts of the U.S., get their funding largely from tourism. Whether it’s through direct ticket sales, allotment of Transient Occupancy Tax, or touring companies, the arts rely heavily on travel.

After 9/11, the following things happened:

Americans stopped traveling, decreasing state and local government revenue from tourism.

Due to this drop in revenue, state and local government funding of the arts were cut by 38% by 2004!

The cut in local government funding also affected art education in the schools. Many public schools no longer offer the arts.

The Federal government became embroiled in the Iraqi war, and as a result federal funding of the Arts was slashed.

The war wreaked havoc on gas prices, causing Americans, who were already hesitant to travel, to travel even less. This led to even less tourism, and made a trip to the theater less appealing than a night spent at home in front of the television.

You might say that the above would impact all industries, not just the arts, and you’d be correct. The question is: Who among you thought beyond the price of gas, bread, and milk? The arts are often overlooked in times of crisis as an unnecessary frivolity.


Of course, as the previous Blog post pointed out, the Arts Industry makes up a large percentage of any major city’s economy!



Let’s take a look at the arts in post 9/11 New York City:

According to, post 9/11 NYC saw an overall decrease in earning for Artists totaling 46%!

13% of artists who rented in NYC were facing eviction. This is important because Artists were found to be using their home as a place of business 70% of the time! 

All callbacks, and the number of auditions stopped for a time in NYC entirely! What does this mean? The performing arts were not being produced.

4 out of 5 artists in NYC were still suffering a loss of income a full year after the attack on 9/11.

Interesting to see, right? Of course you may ask what this has to do with the arts today. Let’s clarify:


The arts were hit hard after September Eleventh, as were all industries. Our entire economy was hit hard. In a suffering economy, the first thing the government tends to cut is the Arts.

Only since January 2009 has the federal government changed its stance on the Arts, with President Obama pushing through a congressional initiative to restore some funding.

Tourism has picked up again, and funding from local governments is being restored. However, the state of California is still in financial crisis, and the arts are at the bottom of the totem pole.

In the post 9/11 economy, both people and corporations are struggling for money. This means a tightening of belts across the board. People don’t have the disposable income to be as charitable as they have in the past. The arts, being comprised mostly of nonprofit organizations, rely heavily on charitable giving. How have nonprofit organizations been hurt?

In the last year alone, charitable giving has seen a decrease of 73% across the board! What does that translate to in terms of dollars? There was a decrease in giving from $15.1 Billion in 2008 to $4.1 Billion in 2009!

So where does that leave us?


It means that now more than ever, the average American needs to support the arts. $10 may not seem like much when held up next to a $1.1 million operating budget, but when you and five hundred other people donate $10, it adds up.

It means that now more than ever, the average American needs to come out to the theater in support of the arts. Every ticket you buy is one ticket closer to paying for next season.

It means that now more than ever, the average American needs to educate their children by exposing them to the arts. The only way we can be certain that we preserve the arts is if the next generation is culturally educated. Unfortunately, our government education is no longer doing this for us.

Of course, some good things have come out of 9/11 in regards to the arts. We have seen many new artworks, new theater shows, new movies, new television shows, new dance pieces created because of, or in tribute to, the attack on the World Trade Center.

California Ballet is no different. Take a look below to see a clip of In Memory . . . United We Stand, choreographed by Paul Koverman.


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