The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has released the results of their survey of middle and high school theatre teachers tracking the impact of COVID-19 on theatre education. Their findings indicate that the current health crisis has put many school theatre programs at risk, with effects likely to continue long after the pandemic has passed.
Of the more than 2,000 educators who responded nationwide, 91 percent reported canceled performances in spring 2020. With 44 percent receiving no district financial support, leaving departments to survive off of fundraising and ticket sales, the effects of these cancellations alone are profound. Twenty-two percent of programs faced budget cuts for the 2020-2021 school year as a result.
Respondents also reported that 2019-2020 revenue losses outpaced earnings over the same period, with future funding support likely to be limited as the country grapples with the remainder of the pandemic and an accompanying economic downturn. On the shorter term, educators reported concerns about student recruitment, morale, and motivation.
However, the data is not solely bleak. Fifty-nine percent of responding educators answered "maybe" and 19 percent "yes" when asked if they thought they would produce a live show in 2020 or 2021. Perhaps most bolstering is that 97 percent answered that they were returning to their positions in fall 2020, indicating that wholesale program cuts have been minimal thus far.
As for how educators are adapting to an unusual moment in history—75 percent of respondents said they were starting the school year either completely remote or in a hybrid model—no predominate strategy emerged for reaching students, which suggests that educators are employing a broad range of tactics to teach theatre in new ways. The most frequently used strategies in spring 2020 included virtual lessons taught asynchronously or on-demand, project-based lessons that spanned multiple class periods, instructional videos and digital games, and digital versions of lesson packets with worksheets.
EdTA will survey educators again in spring 2021 for an updated picture of the school year and to set expectations for 2021-2022.
For the complete report, visit click here.