Nancy Ewart, Lemon Drop, Mixed Media on Paper (2000)
"I believe in Michelangelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; in the might of design, the mystery of colour, the redemption of all things by Beauty everlasting; and the message of Art that has made these hands blessed."
— George Bernard Shaw
Yes we are!
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a 140-page report on the state of the country's artists, reports the Associated Press. According to the study, "Artists in the Workforce: 1990–2005," around 2 million Americans identify themselves as artists, falling into 11 categories.
The report reinforces the term, and stereotype, of the "struggling artist," as the average income for an American artist is $34,800 — well below the average for professionals. Dana Gioia, the NEA chairman, believes that the solution lies in arts education, telling the AP, "You have underemployed and highly trained musicians, actors, dancers, and other artists who could easily provide arts education to our schools."
The NEA also found that the number of artists in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 1970. The number of designers, who make up almost 40 percent of all artists, has increased to around 780,000 in 2005 from 600,000 in 1990. San Francisco has the highest number of artists per capita, with Santa Fe in second place, while Los Angeles-Long Beach (my birthplace) has the most artists overall (140,000), followed by New York (133,000). The percentage of Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian artists grew from 9 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2005.
Gioia says that the report helps disprove the stereotype of artists as unemployed, marginal, and passive. "If you look at the statistics," he says, "artists represent one of the major occupations in the American economy. These are highly trained, productive, and highly entrepreneurial people."