• arts & culture

13 November 2017

The Australia Council for the Arts has today released new research Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia by David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya.

The study is sixth in a series carried out over more than 30 years and tracks trends in the careers of Australian artists.

The report examines the economic conditions faced by practising professional artists in Australia, their increasing value to society and the future of work and the increasing challenge for many artists to make a living from creative work.  Results include:

  • Creative work has historically accounted for around half of artists’ working time and income. It is now taking 57% of working time but generating only 39% of income.
  • At odds with the increasing value that Australians place on the arts, the average total annual incomes for professional artists in Australia are 21% below the Australian workforce average($48k), and income from creative work has decreased by 19% ($19k) since the last survey in 2009.
  • Lack of income from creative practice is now the biggest perceived barrier to current professional development, replacing ‘lack of time for creative work’ reported in the 2009 study.
  • Almost eight in ten artists (77%) mix creative practice with other work, in arts-related roles and outside the arts. Half (51%) apply their creative skills in other industries, up from 36% in 2009. This increase may encourage wider recognition of the value of arts practitioners, especially in the context of industries disrupted by technology. It also presents opportunities for artists to grow their practice in ways that may not have previously been considered.
  • Advances in technology present artists with the opportunity to reach a wider audience with almost seven in ten for surveyed artists regularly using technology in the process of creating art. However, infringement remains an issue with around a quarter of artists reporting their copyright has been infringed in some way.
  • The spread of artists across states and territories roughly aligns with the distribution of the Australian population yet disparities around income and representation remain, based on gender, cultural background and disability.
  • Artists of non-English speaking backgrounds account for 10% of artists compared to 18% of the broader workforce.
  • Female artists earn 25% less than male artists – greater than the overall workforce gender pay gap in Australia of 16%.
  • Artists with disability earn 42% less overall than artists without disability, compared to only 8% less in the last survey.
  • The survey found that 41% of working artists are 55 years of age and over. In Australia’s overall labour force, working people aged 55 and over make up just 18% of the working population.

Read the full report on the Australia Council website