Art Works Blog

Fast Facts: Artists and Arts Workers

Aszure Barton & Artists performing Barton's Blue Soup. Photo by Don Lee, courtesy of the Banff Centre

Move over David Letterman, we have our own top ten list! In our new research note Artists and Arts Workers in the United States we unearthed some surprising facts about the 2.1 million strong cadre of working artists, as well as data on arts-related industries, and states and metro areas where artists live and work. We asked questions like: What’s the most popular arts profession? Who makes the most? When do artists arrive at work? Which cities have the most artists?

What’s not surprising about this study? From rodeo performers to showgirls, it’s pretty clear that art works!

829,000: # of designers covered by the survey. At 39%, this was the largest category. Who exactly are we talking about? Graphic, commercial, and industrial designers, fashion designers, floral designers, interior designers, merchandise displayers, and set and exhibit designers.

$43,0000: Median wages/salaries for artists in 2009. This is higher than the median for the whole labor force ($39,000), but lower than the median wage of the “professional” category of workers ($54,000), which includes artists. Architects earned the most, with a median salary of $63,100.

$.81: What women artists earn for every dollar earned by men artists.

54: Percentage of artists who are employed by the private, for-profit sector.

65: Percentage of dancers and choreographers who arrive at work at noon or later.

Architects: Artists most likely to be foreign-born---often from India, Mexico, China, and the Philippines.

New York and California: U.S. states with the highest concentrations of artists

Minneapolis, Minnesota: U.S. city with most robust book-publishing industry. It’s nearly 8 times the national average

San Jose, California: U.S. city with highest concentration of artists employed in industrial design services.

I Do!: Artists are just as likely to be married as the general workforce. Around 53-54 percent had exchanged vows.

Using a five-year data set (2005-2009) from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, the NEA analyzed 11 distinct artist occupations: actors, announcers, architects, dancers and choreographers, designers, fine artists, art directors and animators, musicians, other entertainers, photographers, producers and directors, and writers and authors. Visit our News Room for the press release.

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