Performing arts


The Performing Arts domain page provides figures on the number of performances and visits by discipline and the number of people employed in the performing arts. The focus is therefore on overarching data about the broader performing arts sector, while the Culture Monitor with the domain page's Music en Theater zooms in on developments within the two subsectors. 


The corona crisis also caused a sharp decline in visitors to the performing arts. The number of visits decreased from 19,4 million in 2019 to 5,4 million in 2020 and 4,1 million in 2021: a decrease of 72 and 79 percent respectively. The corona crisis also had an impact on employment. In 2020, there were 4.300 fewer employed persons in the performing arts than in 2019, after which this number partially recovered in 2021 with an increase of 1.600 employed persons.

Performing arts in the Culture Monitor

Within the Culture Monitor we deal with the great diversity within the Performing Arts domain in various ways. In the Dashboard we unlock data at the level of the umbrella domain 'Performing Arts'. This was chosen because much of the available data on performing arts cannot (yet) be broken down into subdomains such as Music and Theater.

This breakdown can be made in the domain reports in which we bring together more specific data and research. We currently do this for two (sub)domains: Theater en Music. This allows us to provide more depth to the individual developments in these domains. On the Theater domain page we present key figures regarding theatre, musical theatre, dance and movement and cabaret and cabaret, while the Music domain page focuses on the music sector in its entirety. In the future we will investigate whether we can add further breakdowns (for example for the Dance subdomain) to the Culture Monitor.

Key figures

Performances, visits and workers

This figure provides key figures on (1) the number of performances in professional performing arts by discipline, (2) the number of visits to professional stages by discipline and (3) the number of employed persons broken down by type of appointment.

Number of professional performing arts performances, 2005-2021
Number of visits to professional performing arts, 2005-2021
Number of people employed in the professional performing arts, broken down by type of appointment, 2005-2021

Source: CBS

The data in the figures above show developments in the performing arts over the past 16 years. We see that music always had the most performances compared to the other disciplines within the performing arts. Dance and movement has the smallest number of performances in all years. In 2020 and 2021, due to the corona pandemic and the measures to combat the coronavirus, we will see a decline in the total number of performances within the performing arts. In 2020 this was a decrease of 53 percent compared to 2019, in 2021 we will see an even further decrease of 55 percent compared to 2019 (CBS 2022a).

All performing arts together attracted more than 2019 million visits in 19. In 2020, on the other hand, there were only 5,3 million visits to professional performing arts due to the corona crisis, in 2021 this number fell further to 4,1 million visits. This sharp decline in the number of visits is visible across all disciplines, although the number of visits to other performances shows a cautious increase in 2021 compared to 2020. In total, the number of visits in 2020 decreased by 72 percent compared to 2019 and in 2021, the number of visits fell further by 79 percent compared to 2019 (CBS 2021a). The decline in the number of visits is greater than the decline in the number of performances, and so the performances that took place had on average far fewer visitors than in previous years.

Looking at the number of employed people in the performing arts, we see clear growth between 2005 and 2019 – with the exception of a slight decline in 2012 and 2013: from 16.800 employed people to 26.100 people in 2019 (CBS 2022b). In 2020, there was an abrupt decline to 21.800 workers due to the corona crisis, but in 2021 the figures show a slight increase in the total number of workers by 7,3 percent compared to the previous year. If we look at the type of employment, it appears that the number of salaried employees decreased between 2013 and 2016 and only grew slightly again between 2017 and 2019. The number of hired people, on the other hand, grew in 2011 and 2012, remained fairly stable between 2013 and 2015 and grew again between 2016 and 2019. We also see growth among volunteers and interns between 2015 and 2019. This shows that the general increase in the number of workers in the performing arts can mainly be explained by the number of volunteers and hired staff.

In 2020 we will see 4.300 fewer employed people than in 2019 and in 2021 we will see 1.600 workers returning to the performing arts. While there was a decline in all types of employment due to the corona crisis, the number of employees fell most among hired staff (see also the study by Goudriaan et al. 2021).


CBS (2022a) 'Professional performing arts; capacity, performances, visitors, region'. On:

CBS (2022b)'Professional performing arts; employment, benefits and costs'. On:

Goudriaan, R. (et al.) (2021) Unequally affected, unequally supported: effects of the corona crisis in the cultural sector. Amsterdam/Utrecht/The Hague: Boekmanstichting/SiRM/Significant APE.

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Opera in the forest / Photography: Lisa Maatjens