People & Jobs Indicators: DiversityAmong the many factors that contribute to a robust arts scene in Houston, the diversity of the region’s population serves as a vital opportunity for engagement among artists from a vast array of backgrounds and experiences. When compared to the 10 largest metropolitan areas, Houston prevails as the most diverse, narrowly surpassing the New York metropolitan area. According to a report by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, from the years 1990 to 2010, the balance among the four major ethnic groups greatly increased, rendering every group a demographic minority. The Kinder Institute has also surveyed Houston’s population and found that rates of attendance at cultural performance events do not vary by ethnicity in the region (after controlling for socioeconomic status) (Klineberg et al., 2012). More below…
As of 2010, Houston’s Anglo population stands at 39.7 percent, Non-White Hispanic at 35.3 percent, Black at 16.8 percent, Asian at 6.5 percent, and multiracial at 1.3 percent (Kinder Institute, 2010). The cultural vitality of the Houston region thus rests on its ability to understand and appreciate the community of artists who make Houston their home, meanwhile harnessing this opportunity to cultivate a largely unique arts scene.
When compared to the 13 comparison regions, the Houston region’s artists emerge as the third most ethnically diverse population. Moreover, Houston’s artists reflect the region’s multi-ethnic, polyglot identity. Unlike many other areas with large minority populations, Houston is unique in that it does not contain a single dominant ethnic group. In both the region’s general as well as artist populations, Anglos, Blacks, Asians, and Latino all are represented.
Still, in contrast to Houston’s overall diversity, more than half of artists are Anglo. As asserted by the Urban Institute, within the next few years lays the possibility of the Latino population becoming the Houston region’s largest ethnic group. Such an increase in the Latino population could in turn result in an increase in the number of Latino artists employed in the region.
Of the 2.1 million artists residing in the United States, merely 20 percent are from ethnic minority groups. Artists are thus less likely than other workers to be of a minority ethnicity, though the pattern varies greatly by occupation. For example, while only 13 percent of writers and authors are non-white, 41 percent of all dancers or choreographers are non-white and/or Hispanic (NEA, 2011). One possible explanation could be the lack of opportunities for recruitment and encouragement among certain populations to pursue a career in the arts. However, the National Endowment for the Arts has taken the initiative in the majority of major cities to develop museums devoted to African American artists (Watkins, 2014). Thus, an increase in support and encouragement within the Houston community has the potential to increase the participation of every ethnic group in the arts.