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Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Starving" Artists

You’ve heard of the “starving artist?” Well, it’s a reality in Canada according to a new report from Hill Strategies:

There are lots of us: The cultural sector overall has about 609,000 workers, twice as many workers as the forestry sector and double the workers at Canadian banks!

And yet, a typical artist in Canada earns less than half the typical earnings of all Canadian workers. 62% of artists earn less than $20,000 in a year. Ouch.

We are better educated: 39% of artists have a university degree as compared to 21% in the general work force. The university educated artists do better than the artists with a high school diploma, but they still earn less than half of the salary of an average worker with a comparable degree.

And it’s getter worse. Between 1990 and 2005, the earnings of artists decreased by 11%.

I dread the day that all the talented and enthusiastic teenagers have to go into dull, soulless jobs and quit their music, poetry, painting, dancing, acting. We all lose on that day. So do we need more government funding? I personally don’t think that’s the best solution. Do we need to increase our ticket prices? No, that will only discourage people from consuming the arts.

The future may look bleak from a salary perspective, but I would be very interested in reading a report that grades the happiness and satisfaction levels of artists and non-artists.

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