​More performing artists employed than ever before but income varies

In an Australia Council report published on 12 November 2017, authors David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya at Macquarie University found that employment in the performing arts was at an all-time high in 2016.

Share  

​More performing artists employed than ever before but income varies

Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia found that in 2016, 25,600 musicians, actors/directors, dancers/choreographers were employed, whereas the number of practising professional artists in total has remained fairly steady since the 1990s at 48,000.

Making Art Work is the sixth study in a series carried out over 30 years.

It groups around 120 occupations into eight classifications: actors/directors; community arts and cultural development (CACD) artists; composers; craft practitioners; dancers/choreographers; musicians; visual artists; and writers.

The authors’ assessment tallies with that of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group, which found in its most recent employment survey in 2015 that more artists and creatives were employed than in any previous survey year.With ttal numbers dropping slightly in 2016 positively offset by the increase in FTE employee numbers.

Since the last survey, the estimated numbers of actors, writers, dancers, composers and musicians have continued to grow, while the numbers of craft practitioners and CACD artists have declined. Musicians and visual artists account for the highest estimated numbers of artists overall.

For the first time the Australia Council has produced a companion report and interactive data dashboards, available on the Council’s Arts Nation research platform (see links at end).

The eight interactive dashboards can be filtered by type of artistic practice, as well as age, gender and location. The dashboards are:

· the artist population

· demographics of artists

· mean and median incomes

· sources of income

· financial assistance

· artist careers

· business issues

· usage of internet

Making Art Work highlights increasing challenges to maintaining a viable career as a professional artist in Australia. This is at odds with the increasing personal value Australians place on the arts, and the significant economic, social and cultural impact they have on our communities.

The research also highlights that artists’ skills and capabilities are considered to be among the least likely to be automated and increasingly sought as our workforce experiences accelerated change.

Employment of performing artists, Making Art Work

Year .....Musicians ......Actors/directors .....Dancers/choreographers ....TOTAL

1988 ....13,700 ................................3,400 (combined)........................17,100

1993 ....11,500 .........4,200 .......................1,300 ...............................17,000

2001 ....12,500 .........6,500 .....................1,300 ...............................20,300

2009 ....12,500 .........7,000 .....................1,400...............................20,900

2016 ....15,400 ........ 7,900 .....................2,300..............................25,600

The population of artists is split fairly evenly between males and females, compared to the labour force which has a higher proportion of males. Females tend to dominate in most artistic occupations, with the exception of actors, musicians and composers where males outnumber females.

The report has found significant gender disparities in income.

On average, female artists earn 25 per cent less than male artists—greater than the workforce gender pay gap of 16 per cent. Female artists also earn 30 per cent less from their creative work.

Total income levels have gone backwards in real terms, driven by a decrease in income from creative work. Lack of income from creative work is now the biggest perceived immediate barrier to professional development, replacing lack of time. In this environment, artists are increasingly applying their creative skills outside the arts.

It found that the average total annual income for artists is $48,400—21 per cent below the workforce average. Average creative income is $18,800—down by 19 per cent since the last survey in 2009.

The average gross creative and arts-related incomes in the performing arts vary immensely. For actors/directors, that amount has fallen from $42,400 in 1986–87 to $32,400 in 2014–15; for dancers/choreographers it has more than doubled: from 16,000 to 35,700; and for musicians it has fallen slightly from $31,500 to $30,600.

The survey also found that on average artists are older than the labour force with writers and craft practitioners having the oldest average and median ages—and dancers, unsurprisingly, the youngest.

Most artists identified the age at which they became established as being in their mid-thirties. Performing artists become established at a younger age on average. Writers, visual artists and musicians tend to become established when they are older.

There is also an increasing trend for artists to undertake creative work in more than one art form. Almost half (47%) of dancers/choreographers are involved in acting/ directing and there has been an increase in their involvement in visual arts, rising

from 10% in 2009 to 28% in 2016. This is a trend to watch and indicates the emergence of less predictable intersections between art forms.

Making Art Work found that at least 65 per cent of artists use some kind of technology regularly in the process of creating art. Over a quarter are using the internet to create collaborative or interactive art with other artists (27%), up from 14% in 2009.

Approximately one quarter of artists use social networking websites to create artistic work—24 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2009. This is an evolving area of rapid growth and exploration. Actors and directors are now the biggest users with four in ten using social networking for creation.

The full report, Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia, can be found here:http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/workspace/uploads/files/making-art-work-throsby-report-5a05106d0bb69.pdf

The Australia Council summary and response is here: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/workspace/uploads/files/making-art-work-companion-repo-5a0a56f606056.pdf

The Australia Council interactive dashboards are here: http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/making-art-work/

Share  

News, Other Publications