Return to the Stage: Second Wave of the Performing Arts Workforce Study Now Open

January 5, 2021

Those working in the Performing Arts may need to wait the longest of any industry to return to work. But they might also be one of the most adaptable workforces due to the nature of our trade. David J. McGraw, along with Meg Friedman, conducted a short survey, in July, to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the Performing Arts in the United States. The July wave of this study had over 3,300 participants and studied career adaptability, attrition from the field, and coping strategies. Now, Return to the Stage is conducting its second wave survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on Performing Arts workers in all genres and professions. Anyone who worked or volunteered in the Performing Arts in the United States from March 2019 through March 2020 is eligible to participate. They are only running this anonymous survey for two weeks—the survey will be open until 12:00 p.m. PST on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

View the July report and participate in the January survey, here.

What’s this survey and who’s involved?
Return to the Stage is a longitudinal study of performing arts workers in the United States, designed to understand COVID-19 related impacts and to begin documenting a broad future vision for the field. It is a collaborative, grassroots effort led by Meg Friedman and David McGraw.

Return to the Stage Survey Graphic
Here’s a sample slide of the attrition of Performing Arts workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.


About the Return to the Stage Survey

Why are you doing this?

The workforce is the lifeblood of the performing arts sector. Without the talent and effort of thousands – paid and unpaid – the brilliance of live performance would not be able to happen. Performing arts workers are also uniquely resilient and creative, accustomed to working as a team on tight deadlines, often in rapidly changing conditions. This survey will help us understand how the performing arts workforce is experiencing the effects of COVID-19 related restrictions, what kinds of coping strategies the workforce is using, and what your hopes are for the performing arts field in the months and years to come.

This is important because, even as the number of jobs changes in response to sudden losses in revenue, understanding the other side of the equation is just as important: the people side. Lost jobs does NOT equate to lost talent, and we want to hear from the full array of talented people so a clear(er) picture can be formed of the performing arts sector’s future.

Who should take it?

'Everyone who works or volunteers in the performing arts: Performers and managers, directors and choreographers, front-of-house folx and box office teams, writers, technical and design folx, development and marketing, facility operators, vendors, and everyone else who makes the work happen. Your input is anonymous, and individual data will never be shared.

When should/can I take the survey?

The survey will be open for two weeks starting Friday, January 1, 2021 and will be open until 12:00 p.m. PST on Thursday, January 14, 2021.

Questions? Please write to us at

Ready to take the survey? Click here.