The New York Times reveals the results of a survey of a wide range of artists that shows most artists do not–and cannot–earn a living from their work.
More than 5,300 practitioners in fields like painting, filmmaking and architecture participated in the online survey, a larger response than expected, providing a detailed look at the state of the country’s artists, a group that the Census Bureau numbers at more than two million.
Many of the findings — that working artists tend to work day jobs to support themselves; that more than a third don’t have adequate health insurance; that musicians and architects tend to do better than writers and painters — simply provide statistical support for what artists themselves have long known.
But it also found that the recession has been exceptionally tough for many artists. Eighteen percent of those who responded said their income had dropped 50 percent or more in the last year. […]
The artists surveyed tended to earn either very little of their overall income from their artwork or almost all of it. Slightly more than 40 percent said that in 2008 they earned 20 percent or less of their total income from their art.
But at the other end of the spectrum 28 percent said creative work accounted for 80 percent or more of their income, and those artists were often those whose incomes were higher, $80,000 or more. Visual artists (who made up half of the respondents) and writers were more likely to earn 20 percent or less of their income from art.
A Survey Shows the Pain of Recession for Artists (New York Times)