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The Demographic of the American Artist: Lots and Lots


by Jerome Weeks 13 Jun 2008

And their numbers are growing faster in the West and the South than elsewhere. From the New York Times: “More Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker. Dancers have the youngest median age (26), lowest median income ($20,000 a year) and highest proportion of minorities (40 […]

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And their numbers are growing faster in the West and the South than elsewhere.

From the New York Times:

“More Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker.

Dancers have the youngest median age (26), lowest median income ($20,000 a year) and highest proportion of minorities (40 percent) among professional artists, according to census data.”

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said that “artists play an important role in America’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity. Artists have immense financial and social impact as well as cultural impact.”

Using census data, the NEA has compiled what it calls “the first nationwide profile of professional artists in the 21st century.”

“In 2005, nearly two million Americans said their primary employment was in jobs that the census defines as artists’ occupations — including architects, interior designers and window dressers. Their combined income was about $70 billion, a median of $34,800 each. Another 300,000 said artist was their second job.

The percentage of female, black, Hispanic and Asian artists is bigger among younger ones. Among artists under 35, writers are the only group in which 80 percent or more are non-Hispanic white. Overall, women outnumber men only among dancers, designers and writers. Similarly, while 60 percent of professional photographers are men, 60 percent under age 35 are women.

Like the population in general, the number of artists has grown fastest in the West and the South since 1990, but New York State, followed by California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Colorado, has the most artists per capita.”

The N.E.A. Report: “Artists in the Workforce, 1990–2005” (PDF)

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