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The NEA Releases A Report On Value And Needs Of Artists

"The arts sector is not alone in undergoing seismic shifts, but many of these shifts have opened up exciting new opportunities for artists to be at the center of social change. The Creativity Connects report describes what needs to be done to expand artists’ potential contributions." - Angie Kim, president and CEO of the Center for Cultural Innovation

A new report launched by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the NEA Chairman’s 50th Anniversary Creativity Connects* initiative addresses the needs of artists in a world of accelerating change. It examines issues familiar to the arts world such as funding and training, but also widens the lens to look at the effect of other forces shaping the work environment for artists including technology, the gig economy, student debt, and the growth of cross-disciplinary work.

Accompanying the report is a new ‘Bright Spots’ interactive graphic on the NEA website featuring resources and successful projects undertaken by partnerships of arts and non-arts organizations that demonstrate new ways in which creative people are working. The projects can be sorted by arts sector, non-arts sector, and by state.

Chairman Chu said, "This report is practical and well-informed, providing insights and implications for action that together can advance our nation’s creative future. We thank the Center for Cultural Innovation for their work and look forward to sharing the report with our colleagues and those interested in welcoming artists to their sectors to share their creative practices and inspire innovation.” 

Angie Kim, president and CEO of the Center for Cultural Innovation said that CCI, “is proud to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts on this seminal research. The arts sector is not alone in undergoing seismic shifts, but many of these shifts have opened up exciting new opportunities for artists to be at the center of social change. The Creativity Connects report describes what needs to be done to expand artists’ potential contributions."

Report Findings

The report is divided into three sections, each with its own set of conclusions.

  1. Shifts in the Artist Population and the Ways Artists Work
  2. Technology, Economics, Equity, and Training
  3. Implications of this Research

Five main goals that could improve conditions for artists are identified.

  1. Articulate and measure the benefits of artists and creative work to societal health and well-being.
  2. Address artists’ income insecurity as a part of larger workforce efforts.
  3. Address artists’ student debt and help build their assets.
  4. Create 21st-century training systems.
  5. Upgrade systems and structures that support artists.

Report Background

The Creativity Connects report builds on a 2003 report by the Urban Institute, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists led by current National Council on the Arts member Maria Rosario Jackson. Since its publication, Investing in Creativity has influenced the efforts of funders, policy makers, artist support organizations, scholars, and others interested in artists’ creative capacities and extending artists’ contributions across local, state and national levels.

But the world has changed significantly since 2003, and the purpose of the Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists is to present an updated picture of the world in which artists operate, and to offer suggestions for addressing the identified challenges to artists’ success.

To develop the report, the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) research team and NEA staff undertook extensive information-gathering and analysis over the past year and a half. This included conducting 65 in-depth interviews, convening 10 roundtables across the country, reviewing more than 300 documents, gathering more than 30 field experts to review the initial findings, and commissioning 18 online essays written by leaders in the field and available at Creativz.us and on the NEA website.

 *Creativity Connects™ is used with permission from Crayola, LLC.

Image used courtesy of Tina Kerrigan Photography.