ArtistFacts is a compendium of facts, figures, and comments gleaned from some of the work that the Research Center has sponsored between 1987 and 2011, including Still Kicking – Aging Performing Artists in NYC and LA Metro Areas: Information on Artists IV (2011), Taking Note: A Study of Composers and New Music Activity (2008), Above Ground – Information on Artists III: Special Focus NYC Aging Artists (2007), Making Changes: Facilitating the Transition of Dancers to Post-Performance Careers (2004), Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians (2003), Information on Artists I, II and III (1988, 1997, 2004), the Artists Training and Career Project (1990-1995), and The Artist Speaks Series (1990-1995). These facts offer a few highlights of the data from RCAC studies. If you would like more information, please see the full reports.
Working and Making Art
65% of older NYC visual artists (average age 73) have been involved in setting prices for their work for their entire career.
42-43% of older NYC visual artists (average age 73) feel discrimINated against because of AGE and GENDER.
Satisfaction and Legacy
43% of older NYC visual artists are satisfied or very satisfied with their artistic careers; 91% would choose to be an artist if they had it to do over again.
86% of NYC performers and 92% of LA-based performers (actors, choreographers, dancers, musicians and singers) would choose to be performers again.
Awareness and well-being
78% of older NYC visual artists experience awareness, 72% gratification, 69% passion and self-awareness in regard to their artwork or being an artist; 29% experience vulnerability and 28% experience isolation.
Artists as Workers
Over 35% of IOA II artists spend 31 or more hours a week on art or art-related activities, compared to 39% of artists in IOA. Only 43% of artists spent more than 21 hours a week on other employment in IOA II compared to 57% in IOA.
Between 37% and 43% of dancers in the US, Switzerland and Australia ended their careers due to injury or ill health. Twenty-six percent of US dancers, 41 percent of Swiss dancers and 48% of Australian dancers chose some form opf dance occupation (choreography, teaching, other) as their most preferred post-transition work. Professional composers spend an average of 16 hours a week composing and another 11 hours a week on composing-related activities. Seventy-two percent of composers said their compositional activity increased over the last five years.
Ninety percent of IOA II artists and 86% of the IOA artists had at least one credit card; 52% of IOA II artists and 43% of IOA artists applied for bank loans, 42% of IOA II artists and 26% of IOA artists applied for mortgages.
Twenty-eight percent of IOA II artists and 32% of IOA artists owned their current workspace; 40% of IOA II artists and 36% of IOA artists shared that workspace with others; and 60% of the buildings where artists’ workspace is located were residential.
Thirty-eight percent of aging NYC visual artists owned their workspace; 51% rented and 21% shared their primary workspace with others.
Seventy-nine percent of artists in the IOA II study had some form of medical coverage, as compared with the 1988 IOA study, when 82% had some form of medical coverage. The 1988 study showed that 28% of artists obtained this coverage themselves (not through their mates, employers, unions, etc.); 51% paid for this coverage themselves; 49% obtained routine health care from a private physician; 24% from an HMO or PPO; and 51% had been exposed to occupational hazards in their work (for over half this was an ongoing condition).
In the jazz study, 88% of AFM jazz musicians had health coverage; among RDS respondents only 43% of jazz musicians reported having health or medical coverage.
In the aging artists study, 93% of NYC visual artists 62 and over have health insurance and for 86% annual out-of-pocket medical costs were less than $5,000.
With adjustments for inflation, artists in the IOA (1988) and IOA II (1996) studies earned about the same from their art. Sixty percent in 1996 (64% in 1988) earned under $7,000 from their art, and 45% in 1996 (49% in 1988) earned under $3,000 from their art. In 1996 an average of 8% earned over $40,000 from their art, compared to 7% in 1988.
In IOA II, 25% of respondents earned between $20,001 and $30,000 total gross income in 1996. 6% earned between $50,001 and $60,000, and another 8% earned over $60,000.
In the 1990 ATC study, 81% of the painters earned under $12,000 from their art; 75% earned under $30,000 as individuals from all sources of income; and 64% earned under $40,000 gross household income.
In the jazz study, 68% of AFM jazz musicians earned 100% of their incomes from music.
In the aging artists study, the median income was $30,000, $1,750 from art, but 85% had sold a work within the last year.
In 1988 the grant amount that appeared most often (the mode) for artists in the IOA study who received grants was $500; the median was $1,500. By 1996 the mode was $1,000 and the median, $2,000.
Of the 11% of AFM jazz musicians who received grants or fellowships in 2000 as jazz or aspiring jazz musicians, more than 90% received $5,000 or less. 37% of the RDS respondents received grants and fellowships in the same year, but more than 90% of these awards were also $5,000 or less.
One in five composers earns under $20,000 a year; over one in ten makes $100,000 a year.
Education and Training
All RCAC studies show artists as being highly educated. Forty-three percent of artists in the IOA II study had a college degree, and another 38% had a graduate degree. Forty-one percent of the painters in the ATC study had a college degree, and 43% a graduate degree. Sixty-three percent of the IOA and IOA II artists remained in the cities where they received their training.
Almost 45% of both AFM and RDS jazz musicians held bachelor’s degrees or higher, a relatively large share compared to the 24% of the US population over age 25 in the year 2000 with this level of education.
For aging NYC visual artists between 62 and 97, 28% have a bachelor’s degree, an additional 29% have a master’s degree and another 2% have a doctoral degree.
Artists Training and Career Project
Competition, for artists, should be a search for ideas, a search for originality.
There is no loyalty by painters to each other because of the small pie of the marketplace.
There is a societal pressure that says, “What makes you think you can dabble in your interest when ninety-five percent of the world has to make a living?”
Painting is not something I want to do. It’s something I have to do.
The world doesn’t care if you’re in the room…So if you care, stay in the room.
In theatre’s mirror, civilization comes to know itself.
Acting is not a ‘career’ or ‘work’; it’s a permanent joy.
You’re torn. You yearn for the work – we all were in this to do the work – but we have to eat.
I think it’s very important for actors not to give up the dream, even though I don’t think it’s important to attain it.
There are craftspeople who believe you can actually see the love they have put into their work, or at least the results of it.
Over and over again, craftspeople spoke about respect for their material, as if the work was a compact, as though the material had to AGREE somehow to be used in a certain way for success to be achieved.