The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a survey recently stating that there are “2,081,735 million artists in the United States, identified by the occupation to which they which devoted the most hours in a given week.” We make up 1.35% of the population.
The NEA used 11 occupations to determine how people fell into these categories. Here’s the rundown per their website:
Note: These definitions derive from the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system used by all federal statistical agencies to classify workers. Each listed occupation includes a SOC code number.
Actors, SOC 27-11. Play parts in stage, television, radio, video, motion picture productions, or other settings for entertainment, information, or instruction.
Illustrative examples: Actor, actress, voice-over artist, dramatic reader
Announcers, SOC 27-3010. Speak or read from scripted materials on radio and television or make announcements over public-address systems and sporting or public events.
Illustrative examples: Radio disk jockey, talk show host, game show host, ringmaster, emcee
Architects, SOC 17-1010. Plan and design structures, including private residencies and office buildings, or plan and design land areas for projects such as parks, airports, and land subdivisions.
Illustrative examples: Structural architect, building architect, landscape designer, golf course designer
Fine artists, art directors, and animators, SOC 27-1010. Includes art directors; craft artists; fine artists such as painters and sculptors; multimedia artists and animators; and related artists such as calligraphers and tattoo artists.
Dancers and choreographers, SOC 27-2030. Perform dance on stage, for on-air broadcasting, or for video recording; Create new dance routines, rehearse dance performances, and direct and stage presentations.
Illustrative examples: Tap dancer, ballerina, dance artist, dance director, dance master
Designers, SOC 27-1020. Includes commercial and industrial designers; fashion designers; floral designers; graphic designers; interior designers; merchandise displayers; set and exhibit designers; and other designers such as jewelry designers and memorial marker designers.
Other entertainers, SOC-2099. All entertainers, performers, and related workers not listed separately.
Illustrative examples: Clown, magician, comedian
Musicians, SOC 27-2042. Play one or more musical instruments or sing. Perform on stage, for on-air broadcasting, or for sound or video recording.
Illustrative examples: Rapper, oboist, instrumentalist
Photographers, SOC 27-4021. Photograph people, landscapes, merchandise, or other subjects using digital and film cameras and equipment. May develop film negatives or use computer software to produce finished images and prints.
Illustrative examples: Wedding photographer, medical photographer, marine photographer
Producers and directors, SOC 27-2012. Produce or direct stage, television, radio, video, or motion picture productions for entertainment, information, or instruction.
Illustrative examples: Casting director, stage manager, independent film maker
Writers and authors, SOC-27-3043. Originate and prepare written material, including scripts, stories, and advertising.
Illustrative examples: Playwright, advertising copy writer, television writer
Washington state, where I currently live, ranks 10th in the nation with 50,570 artists. My homestate, South Carolina, ranks 41st with 20,390 artists. Cities with the highest concentrations of working artists include Los Angeles, San Fransisco, and Santa Fe – not, as one might expect, New York City or Chicago. Now, NYC has 140,915 artists, which is more than any other US city, but because the city is so hugely populated, that represents only 3.4% of the total workforce.