I saw a post at Mandel on Innovation and Growth (hat tip: MR) that had a nice little chart of employment within the performing arts field. Employment within the performing arts has always been a competitive area: More performers out there than positions. Look at how many budding cellists there are out there after all.
Up to this point, employment within the field had been somewhat steady. Now it has taken a dive, dropping 16% on a year-over-year basis. According to Mandel, this is the lowest since 1990.
Performing arts employment, like government employment is an obvious lagging indicator. A lot of the money for the performing arts is committed in advance. Since there is a heavy cost to restart these programs, and a limited ability to downsize (A four person orchestra is a quartet, not an orchestra), benefactors are reluctant to let them go. The fear, justified to some extent, is that if they disappear, they may never come back. So if the economic fluctuations are of short enough duration, employment levels may not change much at all.
Well obviously the length of the recession has finally broken through this barrier. We should now be able to listen our Lady Gaga at the stop light without concern that the booming Chikofski, in the mercedes pulled up alongside us, will interfere.