By: Christos Makridis
The performing arts were the hardest hit sector over the past two years. Arts, entertainment, and recreation experienced a 45% reduction in employment, according to a 2020 Brookings Institute report, concentrated among actors who experienced an unemployment rate of 40% in 2020 and 33% in 2021, according to the National Endowment of the Arts.
But an advanced and flourishing society cannot exist with indefinite closures of arts and cultural institutions, which provide a central location for people – many who might hold different political attitudes – to gather, appreciate, and discuss what is good and true together.
To return to live performances as quickly as possible, the Boch Center – a leading non-profit, performing arts organization in Boston – adopted ActivePure, a technology that disables pathogens in the air and on surfaces, mitigating the transmission of the virus and providing patrons with the confidence to gather together in-person.
Covid-19 and the performing arts
Although localities and countries varied in their degree of restrictiveness on social and business gatherings, the arts across the board halted productions and performances to a large extent until fall 2021 and 2022. “More than 2.3 million jobs and $74 billion in average monthly earnings for the creative occupations. These losses represent 30% of all creative occupations and 15% of total average monthly wages. Again, creative occupations in the fine and performing arts will be disproportionately affected, representing roughly a third of wage employment losses,” said Professors Richard Florida and Michael Seman in a 2020 study.
These trends have persisted even into 2022. “Employment across all of Colorado’s creative industries that comprise its creative economy is still down 8% from 2019… an 8% loss in employment is significant for any cluster of industries, especially a cluster that experiences substantial temporary employment losses for a long stretch of time,” Seman continued.
“The sector went from artists having full-time work to having absolutely nothing within the span of a month… the financial ramifications were huge, but the psychological effects were even more devastating,” said Norman Reinhardt, a leading freelance tenor.
The arts and cultural sectors contribute 4.2% to gross domestic product, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but the arts also support an even wider array of activities that make life meaningful.
My research finds that the counties that faced greater declines in arts employment during February and May 2020 also have lower levels of social capital – broadly defined as trust, norms, and social networks – suggesting that social capital and employment in the arts go hand-in-hand. “The reason that I do what I do, and the reason the Boch Center as a nonprofit institution (the largest in New England), is because I believe the arts and the music keeps us a civilized society,” said Josiah A. Spaulding, Jr., president of the Boch Center.
Boch Center Adopts ActivePure
After looking into alternative approaches to health and public safety that focused more on the use of UV lighting, finding that they were relatively ineffective, the Boch Center came across ActivePure. “We knew we needed to find the most effective technology to minimize the risks of infections… we also had to education the public and staff about its success so that all could return to our theaters with confidence,” Spaulding continued.
ActivePure deactivates not only Covid-19, but also all other bacteria and fungi. Boch Center’s investment in ActivePure infrastructure was a long-term investment in the health and safety of its personnel and audience members. Two years later, the Boch Center has not been the source of any significant Covid-19 outbreaks. “ActivePure made the difference,” Spaulding continued.
“It was a great project, designing and project managing a risk-based solution for the Boch Center. We took into account the age of the building, the volume of air, and surface areas ensuring we have the right amount of technology in place to address the peak loads that occur in a theater setting. Sharing our pathogen mitigation experience with the arts is so rewarding and we love projects like the Boch Center, and look forward to solving problems for other facilities if they need our help,” said Daniel Garstang who designed the solution for ActivePure for adaptation in the Boch Center.
“Artists were especially worried about Covid-19 because the virus can damage the respiratory system, which is so important to doing our work, so the adoption of ActivePure by the theater makes such a big difference in giving artists protection and confidence,” said Reinhardt.
The Boch Center reopened in August 2021. “Never before have we sold out so many concerts,” Spaulding remarked. “Although streaming technology can help distribute content, there is simply something different about live performances”, he added. The Boch Center, through the Wang Theater, is also home to the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame (FARHOF). “These genres of music have historically provided an outlet for individuals of all races, classes and locations to express their highest joys and their deepest sorrows,” said Spaulding. The Boch Center is the only performing arts center in the world to host a hall of fame. An impressive list of folk, Americana and roots musicians who are involved include Joan Baez, Bob Crawford, Keb’ Mo’, and Noel Paul Stookey, among others.
ActivePure has been used on hundreds of establishments. For example, ActivePure was also implemented at The Capitol Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. “It was a privilege for Wholesome Technologies to support live performances with ActivePure Products for the historic Capitol Theatre… ActivePure disabled pathogens in the air and surfaces, allowing events of the heart to continue with confidence,” said Teresa Musice, owner of Wholesale Technologies.