Australian low incomes, ill health, among artists

This 2010 video is called Australian artists still struggling.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

A Griffith University study found Australia’s creative types have levels of anxiety, tension and insomnia well in excess of the general population.

Headaches, muscular and back pain and skin problems also dogged the painters, musicians, dancers and film makers in much greater numbers. …

The questionnaire study found about 25 per cent suffered headaches and muscular and lower back pain, and about 15 per cent had insomnia, hayfever, indigestion and skin complaints.

But more alarming were results showing that almost half, 48 per cent, suffered from anxiety-related symptoms – more than 10 times the general population.

Economic instability, poor working conditions, low incomes, irregular work and lack of professional recognition all contributed to their poor health.

The recently published Falling Through the Gaps: Our artists’ health and welfare, by Dr Mark Williams, starkly exposes the worsening social conditions facing the overwhelming majority of performing artists and technical support workers in Australian theatre, radio, television and film. The small book is one of Currency House’s Platform Papers quarterly essays: here.

The death of worker and artist Marvin Franklin in New York City: here.

4 thoughts on “Australian low incomes, ill health, among artists


    Garrett defends artists against attack

    September 18, 2007 – 5:49PM

    Treasurer Peter Costello demonstrated a shocking display of philistinism when he belittled Australian artists, opposition arts spokesman and former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett says.

    During question time, Mr Costello mocked a Labor plan to help artists on welfare, saying they don’t need special government support.

    Labor has promised to harmonise the tax and welfare systems so artists on benefits aren’t slugged with extra taxes on royalty payments.

    But Mr Costello said artists on pensions had plenty of time to do their art.

    “What are the responsibilities of someone who’s on welfare? Do they have to turn up at the office at 8am in the morning and take them away from their easel?” Mr Costello posed in parliament.

    “What exactly is keeping them from producing their art?”

    Mr Costello said the only obligation of someone on welfare was to keep a diary recording 10 job search efforts every fortnight.

    “I don’t think that would get in the way of the next Mona Lisa,” he said.

    Mr Garrett, who was part of one of Australia’s most successful bands, made a passionate address to parliament later in the night, saying the treasurer’s comments belittled all Australian artists.

    “What a shocking, shocking display of philistinism and ignorance from this person who will never lead this country,” Mr Garrett said.

    “What a cheap, glib and completely out-of-touch characterisation of Australia’s working artists.”

    Mr Garrett said Mr Costello had highlighted the federal government’s stance on the arts which was visibly hostile.

    “It is the case that the coalition is hostile and indifferent to Australian artists and their work, particularly if it seems to voice a view or an opinion that is contrary to theirs,” he said.

    “The coalition for all their blue-blooded adherence to the monarchy and notions of excellence remain bound in a cloth of ideology. It’s post-modern philistinism of the worst kind.”

    Mr Garrett said Labor’s policy was actually aimed at helping artists become financially independent and come off welfare.

    © 2007 AAP


  2. June 11, 2008 9:14 p.m. PT
    Report: 2 million artists in US, many struggling


    Santa Fe, N.M., calls itself “The City Different,” a community “brimming with bright, creative, and energetic residents.” It is, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts, overflowing with inspiration.

    “Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005,” released Thursday by the NEA, is a 140-page quantification of the state of the country’s artists, from the total who call themselves artists (around 2 million, separated into 11 categories) to the locations where they’re most likely to settle – such as New York, of course, and Los Angeles.

    Or Santa Fe, the scenic, temperate home to Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy, fellow author Natalie Goldberg, painter Susan Rothenberg and her husband, the sculptor-multimedia artist Bruce Nauman. No other city has so high a percentage of writers, artists and architects, the NEA says, a finding that doesn’t surprise Santa Fe officials.

    “It’s really something that has built over time,” says Sabrina Pratt, executive director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission. “You have visual artists who come here for the light and others for the sense of community. Being here seems to feed the artistic soul.”

    The arts enrich not only the spirit, but the matter of Santa Fe, Pratt says. Artists contribute so much that the city once had to pull out of a government study on arts and the economy for fear of “throwing the statistics off.” But even in Santa Fe, some artists have a hard time making a living, a problem the NEA finds nationwide.

    According to the NEA, artists earn some $70 billion annually, but have a median income of $34,800, well under the average for “professionals.” Only one out of eight actors works full-time, and just one out of four musicians. The “struggling,” if not the starving artist, is both stereotype and fact. NEA chairman Dana Gioia believes that Washington needs to regard them with the same concern as it does other workers.

    “You have underemployed and highly trained musicians, actors, dancers and other artists who could easily provide arts education to our schools,” he told The Associated Press. “For the most part, the arts have been dropped from the education of our young people. This is an educational crisis. We are not creating the skills necessary for a 21st-century economy and we have the trained work force that could solve this problem.”

    “Artists in the Workforce,” drawing upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau, other government agencies and arts organizations, identifies a growing (nearly triple since 1970), vital, but underappreciated population. Gioia, himself a poet, says the intention is to “bust old stereotypes” of the alienated artist.

    “I think American artists are perceived as unemployed, marginal and passive,” he says. “If you look at the statistics, artists represent one of the major occupations in the American economy. These are highly trained, productive and highly entrepreneurial people.”

    Among other NEA findings:

    -Computers have apparently led to a decline in visual artists and a big jump in those who identify themselves as “designers,” which includes Web designers. The number of art directors, fine artists and animators fell from around 280,000 in 1990 to around 220,000 in 2005. Designers, nearly 40 percent of all artists, increased from around 600,000 to around 780,000.

    -Among cities, Santa Fe has the second highest number of overall artists per capita, behind San Francisco, which leads in designers.

    -Los Angeles-Long Beach has the most artists overall, around 140,000, followed by New York City, around 133,000. Nashville, Tenn., has the greatest concentration of musicians, Las Vegas the highest rate of “dancers and choreographers” and Orlando, Fla., home to Walt Disney World, leads in “entertainers and performers.”

    -The Pacific region of the United States, which includes California and four other states, has the highest number of artists per capita, 95 per 10,000. The East South Central, which includes Alabama, Kentucky and three other states, has the fewest, 47 per 10,000.

    -The percentage of artists who are Hispanic, Asian or American Indian grew from 9 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2005.

    Gioia said the report highlights how dispersed the arts world has become. While New York and Los Angeles remain cultural leaders, cities from Stamford, Conn., and Santa Rosa, Calif., to Missoula, Mont., and Fort Collins, Colo., also have substantial numbers of artists.

    “It’s the impact of a kind of decentralized electronic culture. … Artists are no longer confined to living in the three to four metropolitan media centers,” he says. “You can now live in Santa Fe and e-mail your New York agent every day.”


  3. Pingback: Booker Prize saves author from poverty | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Artists, established or revolutionary: post eighteenth century reason and romanticism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.