Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2 Million Strong

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."


tangobaby said...

How completely fascinating! (Of course it's so wonderful to know that San Francisco tops that list...)

Can we even comprehend what a wonderful world we would live in if all of these artists were as cherished and admired by our culture as the mediocrity that passes for talent in the mass media? (Or is part of the talent and passion of the artist derived from the struggle to survive?)

What a beautiful, colorful painting you've shared here.

namastenancy said...

Thank you for your compliment! Yes, the world would look a lot different if genuine talent and dedication were rewarded instead of the latest loud idiot. But I fear that's the way of the world, probably going back to cave times. I'll bet that when the cave paintings were being done, some nit-wit was grandstanding over something mediocre while the real work of genius was being done deep within the caves and in the dark.

Zoomie said...

Wonderful analogy about the cave paintings!

Anonymous said...

An arts education would be a blessing for so many children. Alas, when money gets tight, that's the first sort of program to get cut. People fear art. They do. How sad.