Data Visualization: Which Country Has Dedicated the Most Money to Arts Relief During the Pandemic?

We crunched the numbers to compare how nine different countries are bailing out their culture sector.

US art galleries projected a gross revenue loss of 73 percent in the second quarter of 2020, according to a survey by the Art Dealers Association of America. Photo by: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The pandemic has hit the arts and culture industries hard.

In the wake of lockdown-induced budget shortfalls across the sector, advocates have called on governments to offer targeted emergency bailouts for culture. Most have heeded their calls in some capacity, understanding the important role culture can have in propping up the wider economy. But which country has given the most?

We added up the total emergency cultural aid packages from nine countries around the globe to show you how they compare. We looked at the size of each country’s bailout in dollars, and then calculated what the totals amount to per person in order to account for differences in population size. 

We tried to get a decent geographical spread and sourced the information directly from the relevant government departments where we could. The figures show the total amount of cultural aid announced to date, including aid packages issued in 2021. Population figures have been estimated using the World Population Review.

Visualization by Grier Filley ©Artnet News.

Visualization by Grier Filley ©Artnet News.

As with any data dive, there are caveats to our findings. The results could be skewed in favor of countries that have a wider definition of culture, or which have not offered a relief package that is specifically targeted toward arts institutions. In the United States, for example, arts organizations have benefitted from a wider grant program for shuttered venue operators, which also covers venues like cinemas and nightclubs.

For the purposes of simplicity, we only considered aid that was granted on a national level. Some of the countries included in this list, such as Germany, have issued additional support on an individual state level. Culture industries in other nations, such as France and the UK, have also benefitted from generous cross-sector support measures for businesses, including tax relief and government-subsidized furlough programs.

Visualization by Grier Filley ©Artnet News.

Visualization by Grier Filley ©Artnet News.

That said, here is what we learned. While much has been celebrated about Germany’s €2 billion “Neustart Kultur” plan, it is actually France, which has issued €7 billion to a smaller population, that comes out on top in culture funding per capita. The European nation is followed closely by Canada, which has distributed the equivalent of $124 per person to its culture sector.

The US—which had the largest package in dollars but also, by far, the biggest population—comes in fourth place, followed by the UK and Germany. The smallest figure we recorded was for South Africa, which issued a $6.6 million bailout to its arts institutions. See the full lists below.

Size of Recovery Package in Dollars

1. United States: $15.71 billion
2. France: $8.3 billion
3. Canada: $4.7 billion
4. UK: $2.74 billion
5. Germany: $2.37 billion
6. Norway: $543.9 million
7. South Korea: $269.1 million
8. Singapore: $55.6 million
9. South Africa: $6.64 million

Size of Recovery Package per Capita

1. France: $126.90
2. Canada: $123.70
3. Norway: $98.90
4. Sweden: $55.30
5. USA: $47.30
6. UK: $40.20
7. Germany: $28.30
8. South Korea: $9.40
9. South Africa: $0.10

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