“People

People & Jobs Indicators:

Artist Earnings Employment Education Diversity

People & Jobs Overview

“A high incidence of working artists in a particular place is a strong indicator of cultural vitality and provides at least some measure of the support available for key types of artistic endeavors.” — The Urban Institute, Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators

Artists are the wellspring of a local arts scene and the essential pillar of our creative community. To practice their craft, artists require a variety of forms of support that often includes access to education, a means to publicize their work, and most of all, an adequate income. More below…



A 2012 study conducted by the Houston Arts Alliance and the University of Houston found that every county but one in the Houston region witnessed an increase in creative-sector employment between 2001 and 2011 (HAA et al., 2012). The greatest gain occurred in Harris County, which added a total of 3,908 jobs. As more artists come to be employed and reside in Houston, it is pertinent to examine their current living and working situations, including their occupations, earnings, and other characteristics that affect their livelihoods.

It can be difficult to gather data on artists, since their work often takes place outside the usual structure of traditional employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, conducts a quarterly Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey to gather employment and wage data for artists who are not exclusively self-employed. This survey records information on wage rates and employment totals across 801 detailed occupations nationwide. It is important to note, however, that while OES counts both part-time and full-time employees, it does not count self-employed workers. As a result, the employment totals included in this report are sourced from the 2006-2010 U.S. Census Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulations, which capture all three groups.


Sources cited

Jackson, M.-R., Kabwasa-Green, F., and Herranz, J., “Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators,” The Urban Institute, 2006.

Houston Arts Alliance, University of Houston, Greater Houston Parnership, & EMSI, The Creative Economy of Houston, 2012, Retrieved from: http://www.houstonartsalliance.com/images/uploads/documents/The_Creative_Economy_of_Houston.pdf.