The Artist Today

Figure1small.jpgAccording to a recently released 140-page
study, “Artists in the Workforce: 1990–2005,” from the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), 2 million Americans identify themselves as artists. “Artists now play a huge but mostly unrecognized role in the new
American economy of the 21st century,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.
“This report shows how important American artists are to both our
nation’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity of our communities.”

Some interesting snippets:

  • The number of artists in the U.S. is growing, nearly tripling since 1970.
  • Artists are more educated. Artists are twice as likely to have a college degree as other U.S. workers.
  • Women remain underrepresented in several art-related occupations such as architecture, music, production and
    photography. Women do outnumber men, however, in the fields of dance, design and
  • San Francisco has the highest number of
    artists per capita. Santa Fe comes in second place.
  • Los
    Angeles-Long Beach has the most artists overall (140,000), followed by
    New York (133,000). 
  • Artists are diverse. The percentage of Hispanic, Asian or Native American artists grew from 9 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2005.

While the numbers indicate that artists make a big contribution to
the U.S. workforce, the average income for an artist in the U.S. is
below the average for other professionals. Perhaps there is hope,
though, that as the number of working artists continues to grow, a
higher value will be placed on the artist’s contribution as a working
professional. To download the
full report, visit the NEA website.

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One thought on “The Artist Today

  1. Bob Ragland

    This report is very informative. When one knows the numbers of working artists,
    it helps to dispel the starving artist idea. I sent for it and it is a very important part of my art research file. Real artists have art lives by any means necessary in my opinion.