So How Are We Doing? NEA Publishes Data On Artists In The United States

The National Endowment for the Arts has released issue one of its data profile series, entitled “Equal Opportunity Data Mining: National Statistics About Working Artists”.  The data is drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and covers the years 2006-2010.

This is a terrific opportunity to learn more about the state of artists in America.  How many of us are there?  What arts, precisely, are we practicing?  How much are we making?  What states are we making it in?  How diverse are we, by gender and race?

I’ve spent the past several hours poring over tables.  As you might expect, with five years of data, the NEA has offered more information than can be reasonably encapsulated.  So, I’d like to share just a small sample of their findings, primarily focused on theatre artists in the state of Texas and the DFW area.

For a broader look at the findings, including tables for your city/region (if you are not a Texan), please take your time to look at the NEA’s site.

***

TOTAL ARTISTS AND OCCUPATIONS

United States

Image

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So to begin with, there are 2,081,735 artists in the United States.  The survey claims artists compose 1.35% of the U.S. workforce.  For the purposes of the census, an artist is defined as any citizen who dedicates the majority of their working hours to an artistic profession.

Texas

Artists

Percent of all artists in U.S.

Artists as a percent of the U.S. labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

Texas

129,035

6.20%

1.08%

0.80

33

 

In the state of Texas, there are 129,035 artists, representing, by my calculation, slightly more than 1 percent of the labor force.  The index rank, on the right side of the table, rates the percentage of artists in the state’s labor force relative to the US average.  So, if I’m reading correctly, the percentage of working artists in Texas is about 80% of the national average, which means Texas is number 33, among states, in artists as a share of the civilian labor force.

The table below breaks down the professions of artists in Texas.  On the left is the index rank (so Texas ranks 43rd in writers and authors as a percentage of workforce but 15th in Musicians).

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It’s important to realize that the census gathers all artistic professions into these 11 categories, and some of the categories are deliberately broad enough to include artistic professions in non-arts fields.  For example, a copywriter for an ad agency would count as a “Writer and Author”.  This may help to explain why almost 40% of U.S. artists are designers: the field of Design includes, “commercial and industrial designers; fashion designers; floral designers; graphic designers; interior designers; merchandise displayers; set and exhibit designers; and other designers such as jewelry designers and memorial marker designers.”

DFW

Total Civilian labor force

Total artists

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

3,240,180

43,045

As you might expect, the percentage of artists in the DFW metropolitan area specifically is higher than the percentage of artists in Texas as a whole (also unsurprising: almost 2% of Austin-Round Rock’s labor force is artists, much higher than both Dallas and the U.S. average).  The data by profession here is sliced up over several charts, but I’ll break down the potentially theatrical jobs:

Actors: 440

Fine Artists and Art Directors: 3,710

Dancers and Choreographers: 770

Designers: 18,485

Musicians: 4,145

Producers and Directors: 2,365

Writers and Authors: 2,950

Bear in mind that if you confine your search to the City of Dallas, these numbers go way down.  In fact, the census lists only 120 actors in Dallas.

EARNINGS

United States

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

670

0.0%

418,655

22.3%

222,500

11.8%

238,565

12.7%

316,395

16.8%

347,205

18.5%

158,855

8.4%

82,005

4.4%

95,545

5.1%

 

So, yes, 22% of artists in the United States are making under $15,000 per year.  Another 25% make between $15,000 and $35,000.  In sum, about half the artists in the United States make more than 35,000 each year.

Let’s take a look at Texas next.

Texas

Texas

20

0.0%

27,755

23.4%

15,270

12.9%

16,265

13.7%

19,625

16.5%

20,330

17.1%

9,835

8.3%

4,945

4.2%

4,705

4.0%

In all, Texans do slightly worse than the national average.  A higher percentage of our artists make under $15,000 and $25,000 per year.

 

BY PROFESSION

Now let’s break down the data according to profession.  I’ll be grapping the numbers for jobs that potentially overlap with theatre and showing how Texans do against the national average.

Actors

Actors

+/- Margin of error

Percent of all actors in U.S.

Actors as a percent of the labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

United States

47,455

1,854

100.00%

0.03%

1.00

n/a

Texas

1,140

265

2.40%

0.01%

0.31

31

 

So that means Texas ranks 31st in the U.S. in actors as a share of the labor force.  As it happens, 43% of all the actors in the United States are in California.  Another 18.5% are in New York.

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

0

0.0%

10,375

34.2%

5,215

17.2%

4,555

15.0%

3,200

10.6%

3,120

10.3%

1,445

4.8%

975

3.2%

1,440

4.8%

Texas

0

0.0%

325

38.5%

185

21.9%

175

20.7%

70

8.3%

65

7.7%

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

25

3.0%

Texans do worse than the U.S. as a whole.  We have far more actors making less than $35,000 and far fewer making more than $50,000.  It’s worthwhile to put this in context, though.  For instance, while Texas’s 38.5% in the <$15,000 category looks pretty grim, in 25 states, that number is over 40% (in fact, in Alabama, Montana, and West Virginia, the number is 100% — tough being an actor in there!).

Region Percent Non-Hispanic White
United States 73.4%
Texas 58.3%

Texas has a more diverse acting community than most other states if you’re just looking for non-white faces.  Unfortunately, it does relatively poorly when you look at specifically Black or Asian actors.

Total actors

Male

Female

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

47,455

27,035

57.0%

20,420

43.0%

Texas

1,140

600

52.6%

540

47.4%

By gender, Texas actually achieves greater parity than the U.S. as a whole.

 

Producers And Directors

Producers and directors

+/- Margin of error

Percent of all producers and directors in U.S.

Producers and directors as a percent of the labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

United States

146,165

2,918

100.00%

0.09%

1.00

n/a

Texas

6,830

643

4.67%

0.06%

0.60

30

 

Yet again, we find that most of the producers and directors are in California and New York (42% total).  Texas is about the middle of the pack.

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

0

0.0%

11,670

8.8%

9,875

7.5%

15,995

12.1%

24,390

18.4%

29,025

22.0%

15,730

11.9%

10,255

7.8%

15,270

11.5%

Texas

0

0.0%

820

12.9%

500

7.9%

885

13.9%

1,390

21.9%

1,430

22.5%

520

8.2%

275

4.3%

525

8.3%

Producing and directing appears to be a much more stable field (if you can get into it), with 40% nationally, and 45% in Texas, earning between $35,000 and $75,000 each year.

Region Percent Non-Hispanic White
United States 77.9%
Texas 69.9%

Directing and Producing are currently less diverse fields than Acting.

Total producers and directors

Male

Female

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

146,165

91,410

62.5%

54,755

37.5%

Texas

6,830

4,445

65.1%

2,380

34.8%

Here we find the much-commented-upon gender disparity in director and producer positions.  Things are definitely changing (faster in theatre than in film), but with a number like 34.8%, we still have a long way to go.

Designers

Designers

+/- Margin of error

Percent of all designers in U.S.

Designers as a percent of the labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

United States

820,855

6,175

100.00%

0.53%

1.00

n/a

Texas

53,965

1,450

6.57%

0.45%

0.85

28

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

220

0.0%

132,560

17.6%

93,380

12.4%

110,590

14.7%

153,495

20.4%

148,825

19.8%

61,645

8.2%

26,875

3.6%

24,620

3.3%

Texas

20

0.0%

8,800

17.8%

6,455

13.0%

7,090

14.3%

9,310

18.8%

9,580

19.4%

4,705

9.5%

1,845

3.7%

1,665

3.4%

 

Region Percent Non-Hispanic White
United States 78.1%
Texas 68.5%

 

Total designers

Male

Female

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

820,855

377,915

46.0%

442,940

54.0%

Texas

53,965

26,615

49.3%

27,355

50.7%

 

Dancers And Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers

+/- Margin of error

Percent of all dancers and choreographers in U.S.

Dancers and choreographers as a percent of the labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

United States

24,415

1,185

100.00%

0.02%

1.00

n/a

Texas

2,035

387

8.33%

0.02%

1.07

15

Can you guess the number one state for dancers?

How many of you said Nevada?  That’s the power of Las Vegas, I suppose.

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

0

0.0%

7,490

37.0%

4,045

20.0%

3,290

16.2%

2,515

12.4%

1,935

9.6%

540

2.7%

280

1.4%

150

0.7%

Texas

0

0.0%

635

42.2%

220

14.6%

260

17.3%

245

16.3%

75

5.0%

70

4.7%

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

Region Percent Non-Hispanic White
United States 60.3%
Texas 55.5%

Dance turns out to be a pretty diverse field.

Total dancers

Male

Female

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

24,415

4,495

18.4%

19,920

81.6%

Texas

2,035

250

12.3%

1,790

88.0%

Except by gender, where women dominate.

 

Writers And Authors

Writers

+/- Margin of error

Percent of all writers in U.S.

Writers as a percent of the labor force

Index to U.S. average

Index rank

United States

194,250

2,865

100.00%

0.13%

1.00

n/a

Texas

9,105

675

4.69%

0.08%

0.60

43

Texas does very poorly when it comes to writers as a share of the labor force.  Though the field includes all manner of writers, bear this shortage in mind for future discussions of playwrights and original work in Texas.

No earnings

$1 to $14,999

$15,000 to $24,999

$25,000 to $34,999

$35,000 to $49,999

$50,000 to $74,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$125,000 or more

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

190

0.1%

41,710

23.5%

17,775

10.0%

20,110

11.3%

28,440

16.0%

33,320

18.8%

15,630

8.8%

8,410

4.7%

12,000

6.8%

Texas

0

0.0%

2,135

24.7%

950

11.0%

1,300

15.0%

1,510

17.4%

1,405

16.2%

560

6.5%

465

5.4%

335

3.9%

Region Percent Non-Hispanic White
United States 85.6%
Texas 83.0%

Total writers

Male

Female

Number

Percent

Number

Percent

United States

194,250

83,845

43.2%

110,405

56.8%

Texas

9,105

4,090

44.9%

5,010

55.0%

AGE OF ARTISTS

 

I’d like to end with a set of statistics that caught my eye.

16 to 39 years

Number

Percent

United States

886,015

47.1%

Texas

56,035

47.7%

Nearly half the artists in America are under 40 years old.  I’d like to think this is because of an excess of youthful energy flooding into the arts.  Far more likely, it reflects the fact that most citizens, by middle age, transition into other fields, with greater stability and earnings to support families.

As I said above, all the findings are available through the NEA.  Check it out if you want more information.  See if you can discover the cities and states that are best for your field.  You might be surprised what the surveys turned up.

Stephen Foglia, Literary Manager

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