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Full text of "Artists in the workforce : 1990-2005 : executive summary"

National Endowment for the Arts 




ARTISTS IN 
THE WORKFORCE 

1990-2005 




America tends to see its artists as visionaries, rebels, outsiders, and eccentrics. These 
long-standing stereotypes have become mainstays of popular culture— perhaps 
because they are so entertaining. A troubled dreamer, a footloose bohemian, or 
a charming deadbeat can steal the scene from any workaday character. Presented from 
whatever perspective — adoring, puzzled, bemused, or even hostile — these stereotypes 
almost always portray artists as outsiders, fascinating creatures who somehow manage to 
survive on the margins of society. 

The purpose of the new NEA report, Artists in the Workforce, is to demonstrate — in 
cold, hard, unpoetic facts — that such caricatures misrepresent American artists and even 
contribute to their marginalization in society. 

The time has come to insist on an obvious but overlooked fact — artists are workers. They 
make things and perform services, just like other workers, and these goods and services 
have value — not merely in lofty spiritual terms but also in dollars and cents. Without 
denying the higher purposes of the artistic vocation, this report shows that artists play an 
important role in America's cultural vitality and economic prosperity. 

There are now almost two million Americans who describe their primary occupation as 
artist. Representing 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force, artists constitute a sizeable class of 
workers — only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel 
in the U.S. military (2.2 million). Artists represent a larger group than the legal profession 
(lawyers, judges, and paralegals), medical doctors (physicians, surgeons, and dentists), or 
agricultural workers (farmers, ranchers, foresters, and fishers). 

The size of the artistic community gives the group enormous aggregate income — 
approximately $70 billion annually. In terms of sheer numbers, artists represent a powerful 
labor force whose economic contributions go largely unrecognized by both the general 
public and the government. 

Compared to other U.S. workers, American artists tend to be better educated and 
more entrepreneurial. Artists are twice as likely to have earned a college degree as other 
members of the U.S. labor force, though they receive relatively less financial compensation 
for their educational level. Artists are also 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed. 
American artists have learned to be creative not merely in their chosen fields but also in 
how they manage their lives. 

Artists in the Workforce also documents the maturation of American cultural life. The 
number of artists in the U.S. has remained constant as a percentage of the population for 
the past 15 years. Between 1970 and 1990 the number of artists doubled in the United 
States — reflecting the great expansion of theaters, galleries, orchestras, and presenting 
venues as well as the steady growth of both university programs and the entertainment 



industry. In that heady climate, artists grew at nearly twice the rate of the overall labor 
force. As the current survey demonstrates, the number of artists is now growing at 
approximately the same rate as the total labor force. The stability of this measurement 
suggests the place of artists in the American workforce has achieved a point of equilibrium. 

American artists continue to cluster in large metropolitan areas. The greater Los Angeles 
area is now the major employer of artists in the U.S., followed by New York, Chicago, 
Washington, and Boston. More than one-fifth of American artists live in those five areas, 
and artists and arts organizations play a major role in local economies. Not surprisingly, 
artists gravitate to areas where there are employment possibilities from cultural institutions 
and creative industries. 

Yet artists continue to spread across the country. The West and the South have 
experienced the greatest recent growth in artist populations — reflecting larger 
demographic and economic trends. Sunbelt cities dominate the list of metropolitan areas 
with the highest per capita concentration of artists. Nine of the top fifteen cities with 
the highest concentrations of artists are now in the Sunbelt: San Francisco, Santa Fe, Los 
Angeles, Boulder, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Nashville, Orlando, and San Luis Obispo. 

While American artists are not unemployed, they remain conspicuously underemployed. 
One-third of artists work for only part of the year. Actors, dancers, choreographers, 
musicians, and other entertainers are especially vulnerable to seasonal unemployment. 
These statistics reveal a huge loss of cultural and creative expertise. Such widespread 
underemployment seems almost tragic in a nation whose public schools have increasingly 
eliminated arts education. 

There is no way to understand the new American economy without recognizing the role 
of its two million creative workers. In the 21st century, entertainment is an American global 
industry. Design is an essential element of all consumer products and services. Writers, 
broadcasters, actors, animators, musicians, and producers create the programming that 
drives the new electronic media. In cities across the nation, performing arts centers occupy 
key civic positions of enormous economic impact, and the arts have become indispensable 
to local community identity. Communities have also discovered that attracting creative 
workers and industries bolsters their economies. 

From global exports to local investments, the new American economy depends on 
imagination, innovation, and creativity, and those are the skills that artists develop, nurture, 
and promote. Isn't it time that the nation notices? 

Dana Gioia 

Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts 



This report uses United States census occupation data to analyze artists' demographic 
and employment patterns. It represents the first comprehensive look at the nation's 
working artists in the new century. The study also marks the first use of American 
Community Survey data to profile artist occupations. 

Seewww.nea.gov/research/ResearchReports_chrono.html to obtain the full report. 



KEY FINDINGS 



Nearly two million Americans 
are artists. 

■ 1-99 million Americans identified an artist 
occupation as their primary job. 

■ The total excludes many people with secondary 
employment as artists — an estimated 300,000 
Americans. 

■ Designers are the single largest group of artists, 
followed by performing artists such as actors, 
dancers, musicians, and announcers. 



Artist occupations, 2003-2005 



Fine artists, art directors, 

and animators 

11% 



Architects 
10% 



Writers _ 
and authors 
9% 

Producers 

and directors 

7% 




Photographers 

7% Performing artists 

17% 



2. The number of artists has kept 
pace with the growth in the overall 
labor force. 

■ After doubling from 1970 to 1990, artists 
have begun to hold steady as a proportion of 
American workers (1.4 percent). 

■ Writers were among the fastest growing artist 
occupations from 1990 to 2005 — growing at 
twice the rate of the total labor force. 



2,500,000 




160,000,000 

140,000.000 

20,000,000 



100,000,000 g" 



80,000,000 
60,000,000 
40,000,000 
20.000.000 



1970 1980 



1990 



2000 2005 




f«M 



3. Artists remain highly concentrated 
in urban areas. 

■ Half of all artists live in 30 metropolitan areas. 

■ More than one-fifth of all U.S. artists live 
in 5 major metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, 
New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, and 
Boston. 

■ But as a percentage of the labor force, artists 
cluster in a diverse array of towns and cities. 



Top 10 metropolitan areas ranked by percentage 
of artists in the labor force 



Total artists 


1 . San Francisco, CA (PMSA)* 


3.71 


2. Santa Fe, NM 


3.36 


3. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (PMSA) 


3.26 


4. New York, NY (PMSA) 


3.12 


5. Stamford-Norwalk, CT (PMSA) 


3.01 


6. Boulder-Longmont, CO (PMSA) 


2.64 


7. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA (PMSA) 


2.37 


8. Danbury, CT (PMSA) 


2.28 


9. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA 


2.25 


10. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (PMSA) 


2.16 



Selected artist occupations: Top 10 metropolitan areas ranked by percentage of artists in the labor force 



Musicians 


1 . Nashville, TN 


0.65 


2. Lawrence, KS 


0.31 


3. Los Angeles-Long Beach, 
CA (PMSA) 


0.29 


4. Bloomington, IN 


0.29 


5. New York, NY (PMSA) 


0.27 


6. Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 


0.27 


7. Hattiesburg, MS 


0.26 


8. Myrtle Beach, SC 


0.25 


9. Trenton, NJ (PMSA) 


0.24 


10. Punta Gorda, FL 


0.24 



Actors 


1 . Los Angeles-Long Beach, 
CA (PMSA) 


0.34 


2. New York, NY (PMSA) 


0.17 


3. Medford-Ashland, OR 


0.13 


4. Orlando, FL 


0.08 


5. Wilmington, NC 


0.07 


6. Ventura, CA (PMSA) 


0.07 


7 Jersey City, NJ (PMSA) 


0.07 


8. Stamford-Norwalk, CT 
(PMSA) 


0.06 


9. San Francisco, CA (PMSA) 


0.05 


10. Santa Barbara-Santa 
Maria-Lompoc, CA 


0.05 



Writers and authors 


1 . Santa Fe, NM 


0.41 


2. San Francisco, CA 
(PMSA) 


0.39 


3. Boulder-Longmont, CO 
(PMSA) 


0.37 


4. New York, NY (PMSA) 


0.36 


5. Bloomington, IN 


0.36 


6. State College, PA 


0.32 


7. Los Angeles-Long Beach, 
CA (PMSA) 


0.32 


8. Stamford-Norwalk, CT 
(PMSA) 


0.31 


9. Missoula, MT 


0.30 


10. Corvallis, OR 


0.29 



Fine artists, art directors, 
and animators 


1 . Santa Fe, NM 


1.12 


2. San Francisco, CA (PMSA) 


0.55 


3. Santa Rosa, CA (PMSA) 


0.39 


4. Los Angeles-Long Beach, 
CA (PMSA) 


0.38 


5. New York, NY (PMSA) 


0.38 


6. Barnstable-Yarmouth, 
MA 


0.37 


7. Stamford-Norwalk, CT 
(PMSA) 


0.37 


8. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, 
CA (PMSA) 


0.37 


9. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO 


0.36 


1 San Luis Obispo-Atas- 
cadero-Paso Robles, CA 


0.35 



Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Special Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation. 

•PMSA = Primary metropolitan statistical area, as defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget. 



4. The artist population, like the labor 
force, is becoming more diverse. 

■ The percentage of non-Hispanic white artists 
dipped from 86 percent to 80 percent between 
1990 and 2005. 

■ In 2005, Hispanic, Asian, and Native- 
American artists accounted for nearly 15 
percent of all artists — up 6 points from 199° • 

■ Over a 15-year period, the proportion of 
African-American artists has remained steady, 
at 5 percent. 

5. Artists are generally more educated 
than the workforce as a whole. 

■ Artists are twice as likely as the overall labor 
force to have graduated from college. 

■ The proportion of artists with degrees is 
rising — from 51 percent in 2000 to 55 percent 
in 2003-2005. 

■ Architects, writers, and producers show the 
highest education levels. 





Percentage with a 
bachelor's degree or higher 


Overall labor force 


28% 


All artists 


55% 



6. Artists are 3.5 times more 

likely than other workers to be 
self-employed. 

■ More than one in three artists is self- 
employed, compared with less than IO percent 
of the labor force. 

■ 40 percent of all musicians work in the non- 
profit sector — far more than any other artist 
group. 





Percentage 
self-employed 


Overall labor force 


10% 


All artists 


35% 



7. Fewer artists have full-year, full- 
time jobs than other workers. 

■ One-third of all artists work fewer than 
50 weeks a year. 

■ 28 percent of artists work for less than 
35 hours a week. 

■ Actors have the lowest level of full-year, full- 
time employment — 15 percent. 





Percentage of full-year, 
full-time workers 


Overall labor force 


61% 


All artists 


55% 



8. Artists generally earn less than 
workers with similar levels of 
education. 

■ Artists earn $6,000 less annually than other 
"professional" workers. 

■ Dancers have the lowest median annual 
income— $15,000. 

9. Women remain underrepresented 
in several artist occupations. 

■ Four out of five architects and announcers, 
and almost two-thirds of musicians, producers, 
and photographers, are men. 

■ Yet three out of four dancers are women, as are 
more than half of all designers and writers. 



M/AI "VJI 



FFSTIVAL 



10. The West and South have seen the 
greatest growth in artists by state. 

■ The West was led by Nevada, Utah, Oregon, 
and Arizona. In these states, the artist 
population grew at 2-5 to 5 times the rate 
of that of the U.S. labor force (ll.6 percent) 
from 1990 to 2000. 

■ Florida and Georgia led the South with a 
23 percent growth in artists — double the 
national average. 

■ 29 percent of all artists now live in the West, 
and another 29 percent in the South. 



Top 10 states ranked by number of artists 
per 10,000 people 



Total artists 


1 . New York 


101.1 


2. California 


97.6 


3. Massachusetts 


91.0 


4. Vermont 


87.4 


5. Colorado 


85.4 


6. Hawaii 


84.1 


7. Connecticut 


84.0 


8. Oregon 


80.5 


9. Washington 


78.8 


10. Nevada 


77.9 



Selected artist occupations: Top 10 states ranked by number of artists per 10,000 people 



Actors 


1 . California 


5.3 


2. New York 


4.2 


3. Nevada 


1.3 


4. New Jersey 


1.1 


5. Florida 


1.0 


6. Minnesota 


0.9 


7. Illinois 


0.9 


Z Utah 


0.9 


9. Oregon 


0.9 


10. Connecticut 


0.9 




Designers 


1 . Massachusetts 


36.9 


2. Connecticut 


36.5 


3. Rhode Island 


36.2 


4. New York 


34.5 


5. California 


34.1 


6. Michigan 


32.8 


7. Colorado 


32.6 


8. Minnesota 


31.9 


9. Oregon 


31.6 


10. Washington 


314 



Architects 


1 . Massachusetts 


12.9 


2. Colorado 


12.7 


3. Washington 


11.7 


4. Vermont 


10.7 


5. Hawaii 


10.3 


6. New York 


9.3 


7. Connecticut 


9.1 


8. Oregon 


9.1 


9. Maryland 


9.0 


10. California 


8.5 




Entertainers and 
performers 


1 . Nevada 


8.9 


2. Florida 


3.4 


3. Hawaii 


2.9 


4. California 


2.0 


5. Arizona 


1.8 


6. New York 


1.5 


7. Colorado 


1.5 


8. Tennessee 


1.4 


9. Texas 


1.3 


10. Vermont 


1.3 



Fine artists, art directors, 
and animators 


1 . New Mexico 


18.1 


2. Vermont 


16.2 


3. Hawaii 


14.9 


4. Montana 


13.0 


5. New York 


12.6 


6. California 


12.4 


7. Alaska 


12.3 


8. Maine 


12.1 


9. Oregon 


11.4 


10. Colorado 


10.9 




Musicians 


1 . Tennessee 


11.8 


2. Hawaii 


10.1 


3. Nevada 


8.9 


4. New York 


8.6 


5. California 


7.8 


6. Florida 


6.9 


7. Massachusetts 


6.9 


8. New Jersey 


6.8 


9. Colorado 


6.4 


10 Minnesota 


6.2 



Dancers and 
choreographers 


1 . Nevada 


6.9 


2. Hawaii 


4.7 


3. Alaska 


2.0 


4. Arizona 


1.5 


5. Utah 


1.4 


6. Florida 


1.4 


7. New York 


1.4 


8. Nebraska 


1.2 


9. Texas 


1.1 


10. Oklahoma 


1.1 




Writers and authors 


1 . Vermont 


11.3 


2. New York 


10.8 


3. Massachusetts 


9.8 


4. California 


9.0 


5. Oregon 


8.6 


6. Connecticut 


8.1 


7. Colorado 


8.1 


8. Maine 


7.9 


9. Maryland 


7.7 


10. Montana 


7.5 



Source: U S Census Bureau. Census 2000 Special Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) tabulation 



A Great Nation Deserves Great Art. 




NATIONAL 
ENDOWMENT 
FOR THE ARTS 



1 100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 

Washington, DC 20506-0001 

(202) 682-5400 

WWWJBl8.gOV 

Not for sale -Available for free at www.arts.gov