Sunday, February 26, 2012

Starving artists? That's not far from the mark
Research report from
"... The study reports that artists over all are working for near-poverty-level wages, with an average annual earnings in calendar year 2005 of just $22,731, compared with $36,301 for all Canadian workers – a 37-per-cent wage chasm.
In fact, of the 140,000 artists analyzed, 43 per cent earned less than $10,000, whereas in the overall labour force that percentage was 25 per cent. The study notes that the $22,700 average is only 9 per cent higher than the $20,800 that Statistics Canada has identified as the "low-income cutoff" for a single person living in a city with 500,000 people or more.
What makes the situation even more distressing is that artist earnings have been decreasing since 1990 – a decline likely to intensify over the next two years. While average earnings for the overall labour force rose by almost 10 per cent from 1990 to 2005, artists experienced a slide of 11 per cent – to $22,731 from $25,433 – at the same time as the cultural-sector work force tripled in size. Actors experienced the sharpest decline in average earnings among artists, dropping 34 per cent to about $18,000 in 2005.

According to the Hill study, the poorest-paid Canadian artist category is that of female visual artist, with average earnings in 2005 of $11,421, closely followed by female artisan/craftsperson ($12,307), female musician/singer ($12,449), and female dancer ($12,502).

Indeed, while there are more female artists than males (74,000 versus 66,000) in the country, female artists over all earn much less than their male counterparts: In 2005, a female artist earned on average $19,175, a male $26,714 – a span of close to 30 per cent.

If there is a "labour aristocracy" among artists, it's those 22,370 individuals who identified themselves as "producers/directors/choreographers" in the 2006 census. Males in that category averaged earnings of just under $45,000 while females received $42,000. Francophone artists in Quebec over all are better remunerated than their anglophone equivalents, but not significantly better: According to the survey, they earned an average of $24,520 in 2005, a gap of about 7 per cent.
Aboriginal artists are especially poor earners – just $15,900 on average, 30-per-cent lower than the average for all artists. ..."