NEA Announces New Research on Artists in the Workforce

by Laurie Baskin

in Advocacy,Tools & Research

This fall, the NEA announced new research regarding the status of artists in the American workforce.  Artists and Arts Workers in the United States offers the first combined analysis of artists and industries, state and metro employment rates, and new demographic information such as age, education levels, income, ethnicity, and other social characteristics.

Among the key findings:

  • There are 2.1 million artists in the United States
  • Artists work in many industries and job sectors
  • Wage gaps persist
  • Artist demographics
  • Artist-heavy states and regions

The NEA analyzed data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, a new annual survey tool that complements the decennial census. The report 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.

The press release and full report can be found here.

TCG regularly engages in formal listening opportunities, which we call Field Conversations, and over the past year and a half, TCG has worked to investigate the relationship between individual artists and institutions in the field, and to identify the successes, challenges, and ways of strengthening relationships in order to strengthen our field.

This most recent endeavor began in the spring of 2010, with a series of teleconferences with actors, directors, designers, playwrights and dramaturgs. With the support of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we then held Roundtable conversations inLos Angeles,New YorkandChicagothat included individual artists, leaders form TCG member and non-member theatres, trustees and educators. A National Survey was conducted to gather quantitative information from artists about their working conditions and relationships with organizations, and finally, Town Hall conversations were hosted locally all over the country.

Findings from all three parts of the Field Conversations were condensed into a report written by Celia Wren, published in American Theatre magazine in the summer of 2011. That report can be found here.


Laurie Baskin is TCG’s  Director of Government and Education Programs.