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NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman Announces New Research on Artist Employment Projections Through 2018

by National Endowment for the Arts

June 30, 2011

Washington, DC – For the first time, the National Endowment for the Arts looks at future job prospects for a variety of artist occupations in Artist Employment Projections through 2018. This report examines the projected growth rate for artist occupations through 2018, over which time artist occupations will increase by 11 percent, compared with an overall increase in the labor force of 10 percent.

The artist occupations with the highest projected growth rates are museum technicians and conservators (26 percent), curators (23 percent), landscape architects (20 percent), interior designers (19 percent), architects (16 percent), writers and authors (15 percent), and multi-media artists and animators (14 percent).
Artist occupations likely to increase at a rate on par with the growth of the overall U.S. labor force are: graphic designers and actors (both 13 percent), art directors, photographers, and film and video editors (12 percent), and fine artists (9 percent), including painters, sculptors, and illustrators.
The artist occupations with the lowest projected growth rates are choreographers (5 percent), fashion designers (1 percent), floral designers (-3 percent), and media announcers (-4 percent).
The NEA note explores expected trends for more than a dozen artist and cultural occupations, including designers, writers, fine and multimedia artists, archivists, architects, camera operators, and musicians. In addition to occupation growth rate, the note also looks at the projected competition for jobs as well as the industry trends and macroeconomic factors that influence the demand for arts workers.

The data are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2010-11, which forecasts occupational trends for the entire U.S. labor force from 2008-2018. Artists are included in the “professional and related occupations” category. The aggregate projected growth rate for artists (11 percent) is similar to that of the overall labor force (10 percent), though lower than the professional occupations category, which has a projected growth rate of 17 percent.

Long term state-by-state job forecasts are also developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The outlook for all occupations – including arts jobs – is informed by two key factors: growth (the number of new available jobs) and competition (the relationship between the number of job openings and job-seekers).

For example, in the relatively small field of museum technicians and conservators, the 26 percent jump in jobs by 2018 reflects an increase of 2,800 jobs over the current 11,100 jobs. Competition for these jobs is stiff, as the skills necessary require high levels of education and turnover is relatively low. In comparison, the photography field is much larger (152,000) and is expected to add 17,500 jobs, which amounts to a 12 percent increase, or an average rate of growth. Those entering the photography field will also face keen competition for jobs

Industry trends in fields other than the arts affect the growth of many artist occupations. For example, the growing healthcare and hospitality industries will result in increased demand for interior designers. The increase in retirement communities and the demand for sustainable design will improve job prospects for architects and landscape architects. As audiences turn to the Internet and interactive media, graphic designers, multimedia artists, and writers may benefit.

Other occupations, such as dance, rely not on external industry trends, but on factors such as contributed income and audience attendance, both of which are influenced by the U.S. economy. Jobs in the dance category are projected to grow only slightly and competition is intense, making regular employment a challenge.

Also available through NEA research, a summary report resulting from the Cultural Workforce Forum, a November 2009 convening of academics, foundation professionals, and service organization representatives to discuss improving the collection and reporting of statistics about arts and cultural workers.

The NEA research note Artist Employment Projections through 2018 and the Cultural Workforce Forum summary report are available for download in the Research section of

Other recent reports look at education trends for the workforce in general and arts workers in particular. A recent Georgetown University study also based on BLS’ forecast data reports that two-thirds of the 46.8 million jobs created by 2018 will require workers with at least some college-level education. As previously noted in the NEA’s Artists in the Workforce study, arts workers are twice as likely to have college degrees as other U.S. workers – a structural shift that may provide some advantage to artists in the U.S. economy. Additionally, in a separate NEA-supported report, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) is the first national profile of people who train in the arts at the high school or college level. This report found that most arts graduates are employed and holding jobs consistent with their educational goals.

About NEA research

The NEA is the only federal agency to conduct long-term and detailed analyses of arts participation. For more than 30 years, the NEA Office of Research & Analysis has produced periodic research reports, brochures, and notes on significant topics affecting artists and arts organizations, often in partnership with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The NEA is committed to extending the conversation about arts participation by making data available to both the research community and the public at large.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

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