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Saturday, September 1, 2012

There Are More Arts and Culture Workers Than Farmers, Fishers, and Foresters Combined

Posted by on Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 10:28 AM

The fourth annual report on Arts and Economic Prosperity—a national breakdown of how institutional arts economics fit in with the rest of the economy—was released this summer. You can check out its findings over here. It has a few nuggets worth noticing. The Seattle arts economy, for example, supports the equivalent of around 11,000 full-time jobs—roughly the same number as Dallas, even though Dallas's population is twice as large.

And as you head to—or avoid—Bumbershoot this weekend, you can think about the jobs it supports and this graph:


Strange that the US has more people working in arts and culture administration than police officers and firefighters put together. And strange that they don't have a more influential lobbying presence.


Comments (15) RSS

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internet_jen 1
:) Arts Event-Related Audience Expenditure: $175,628,709

Will we be provided with a Fringe Festival round up before it starts?
Posted by internet_jen on September 1, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Go your standard arts and crafts fair and you'll see why they have no influence.
Posted by Sugartit on September 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 3
i daresay that our conservative commenters will assert that this is an indication of our decline as a global power.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 1, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
cedarthvader 4
Most people involved in the arts don't make that much money and aren't that well connected, politically.
Posted by cedarthvader on September 1, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
cedarthvader 5
What I would love to see would be some sort of arts collective insurance pool, so we could buy insurance at a discounted rate. Or, you know, have universal coverage so this wasn't even an issue.
Posted by cedarthvader on September 1, 2012 at 1:37 PM · Report this
@5 Or you could get a real job.
Posted by Sugartit on September 1, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
too bad you can't eat pottery.
and painter's won't protect you from your Big Tentmates from the 'hood.
come the End of Days you girls are going to be in a fix.
except that you'll be out under the Pacific by then....
Posted by h7u8903dgs on September 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 8
Not so strange. Consider the law of supply and demand. When the supply of artists exceeds the demand of artists, how much is the individual artist then worth in monetary terms? This is why we do not import arts and culture workers and pay them high wages, and why the phrase "starving artist" is part of our lexicon.

While there is a strong need for engineers, there are vanishingly few American kids studying engineering at college, which is why we import engineers from other countries and pay them high wages. The demand for engineers exceeds the supply. Its also why we never use the phrase "starving engineer".

if you want to survive, you have to be one of the very few who can do a given thing that people genuinely need. It is very hard to survive if you are one of many who can do a thing that so many millions of others can also do, and which is not needed in a concrete sense.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on September 1, 2012 at 3:03 PM · Report this
"...there are vanishingly few American kids studying engineering at college..."

Bullshit. You're just making shit up.
Posted by bigyaz on September 1, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
internet_jen 10
@5 - National Endowment for the Arts provides funds for this, but I bet they're spread pretty thin:…
Posted by internet_jen on September 1, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
And we know what happens when Evergreen State poetry therapy majors discover the true value of their 'arts' degrees.
Posted by Pity the po' white bourgeois boheme! on September 1, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
@ 1. Yes indeed. Expect a Seattle Fringe Festival preview in the coming weeks.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on September 1, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
doloresdaphne 13
I'm not an expert on these things, but two causes for the top heavy arts economy (heavy in people, not necessarily in money) is;

a) The US is a global super power in arts & entertainment, and even though there's not a stable and well paid job for everyone who takes that path, there are big rewards for those who make it to the top in the arts, and American culture promotes dreaming big, so you a lot of people drawn to those areas.

b) Back in the 80's and early 90's there were a lot of (American) self help books all pushing a similar message of "do what you love, and the money will follow." which encouraged people to pursue careers in activities that they found personally rewarding (regardless of whether the world needed them to do that), while in Eastern countries which are less individualistic and more collective in their outlook) would be instead asking themselves the question "what does the world need?" when deciding on their career not "what activity do I enjoy doing?"
Posted by doloresdaphne on September 1, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 14

If I'm making this up, then it must be an eerie coincidence that many people are sayingt he exact same thing, including President Obama (see the last link posted), US News and World Report, the international press, most major scientific journals and NPR.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on September 1, 2012 at 10:03 PM · Report this
Teslick 15
Considering the breadth of organizations and individuals in this category, you have to think you have a multitude of purposes, goals, work, etc., whereas "firefighter" is much more narrow. So it's not surprising arts folks counted for this report don't have as much clout as public safety.
Posted by Teslick on September 1, 2012 at 11:41 PM · Report this

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