According to a research study by the National Endowment for the Arts, “There are 2.1 million artists in the United States.” That’s about 1.4 percent of the total workforce.
Here are some other vague, tantalizing discoveries:
- Artists are more entrepreneurial (more likely to be self-employed) than the average worker.
- Artists are more educated than “the workforce at large.”
- Artists work from home from than the average (15 percent to 4 percent).
Revelations all. The way the NEA has defined “artist” is through these 11 occupations: actors, announcers, architects, dancers and choreographers, designers, fine artists, art directors and animators, musicians, other entertainers, photographers, producers and directors, and writers and authors.
We wonder if Rirkrit Tiravanija, who will be cooking Thai curry for MoMA visitors at an upcoming installation in November, qualifies as “fine artist” or “other entertainer.” Or does relational aesthetics explode the NEA’s confining categories?
At least we know for sure now that the terms “starving artist” is totally extinct. You see, according to the NEA figures, the median salary for artists ($43,000) is higher than that of the overall labor force ($39,000). We always thought Julian Schnabel’s paint-splattered clothes didn’t really speak to his income.