Artist Earnings Employment Education Diversity

People & Jobs Indicators: Artist Earnings

According to a study by the Urban Institute, artists in the United States are often underpaid in relation to their education, skills, and societal contributions (Jackson et al., 2003). In the case of Houston, a high degree of wage disparity persists among artists, both in terms of geographic location and the different disciplines that make up a given artist occupation. Meager earnings are one of the chief reasons why increased funding remains such an enduring need for artists. More below…

Examining the earning levels for individuals whose primary source of income comes from arts-related occupations shows how viable it is for a person to pursue a career in the arts in the Houston region. As an indicator, income levels for artists can lend insight into how hospitable our region is for working artists, as well as better inform funding decisions.

Data for this indicator is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) tabulation. The OES produces employment and wage estimates for more than 800 occupations, and documents the wages paid to non-self-employed persons. The occupations used in this indicator are identical to the NEA’s list of occupations it considers to be “artist” occupations.

Source cited

Maria-Rosario Jackson, Florence Kabwasa-Green, Joaquin Herranz, Jr., Kadija Ferryman, Caron Atlas, Eric Wallner, Carole Rosenstein, “Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Adults,” Culture, Creativity & Communities Program at Urban Institute, 2003, Retrieved at: