Day & Night Jobs

For the issue of Day & Night Jobs, MADE HERE explores performing artists and the myriad things they have to do to support their art.

 

Specific employment-related data about performing artists are scarce, but we refer to 2000 U.S. Census data and the 2008 NEA report on Artists in the Workforce. Artists are twice as likely to have earned a college degree as other members of the U.S. labor force, though they receive relatively less financial compensation for their educational level. Artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed than the average worker. Underemployment is common in the arts, with one-third of artists working part-time; actors, dancers, and musicians experience high seasonal unemployment. The median annual income of artists is $30,000 – $6,000 less than that of other “professional” workers; dancers have the lowest median annual income—$15,000. Artists struggle to make ends meet and live below the standards of the rest of the American workforce. Despite the challenges, artists have a strong desire to create and innovate.

 

The three episodes for this issue are: My Other Jobs, Artist Teachers, and Creating Opportunities.
 

Discussion Topics

Episode Feedback

More Odd Jobs

Subsidizing Yourself

The Boss

Health Insurance

Resources

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What has been your favorite/strangest “other” job and why? Interview your boss! Why does he/she employ artists and how do artists contribute to the workplace?

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episode 3: Creating Opportunities

When the members of Chinese Theatre Works had a hard time juggling jobs and rehearsals, they took matters into their own hands. Now, with one member owning her own small business, the companies’ artists have an understanding boss and the flexibility to balance their work and art.

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News

Tight Times Loosen Artists’ Creativity

The New York Times looks at how artists around the country are creatively reacting to the recession. The online version of the article includes multimedia slide shows and videos.

A Survey Shows Pain of Recession for Artists

This New York Times article from November 2009 outlines a new survey of American artists and how they are weathering the economic downturn. Statistics include the finding that 18% of artists said their income had dropped 50% or more within the last year.

U.S. Adds Jobs in May, but Private Hiring Disappoints

May unemployment statistics show a drop in unemployment from 9.9 percent to 9.7 percent. Most new hiring was in government jobs with only a small amount of non-government hiring.

Public Theater and Dramatists Guild Reach New Royalty Agreement

The Public Theater and the Dramatists Guild have reached a new agreement on subsidiary rights, which will allow playwrights to keep a larger portion of the royalties generated by their work.

Dropping of ‘Law & Order’ Leaves Hole in Economy

Recent New York Times article on the effect that cancelling ‘Law & Order’ will have on the city’s actors and businesses.

The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not

The number of unpaid internships has risen in recent years. This article looks at for profit and non-profit internships and the legal issues surrounding them.

How Do You Define 'Artist'?

Article from the Huffington Post looks at how we define an artist and the work of artists in America.

Playwrights’ Nurturing Is the Focus of a Study

This New York Times article from January 2010 looks at the results of the Theater Development Fund study published in the book “Outrageous Fortune.” The study looked at the economics of playwrighting in America.

Five Questions from CULTUREBOT

The arts blog CULTUREBOT.org interviews a wide variety of New York artists and always asks if they have had to make a choice in their life between work and art.

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Organizations

New York Foundation for the Arts Job Listings

Free searchable listings for full-time, part-time jobs and internships in the arts.

ARTSEARCH

Membership only searchable listings of Arts jobs. Memberships start at $40. Run as a service of the Theatre Communications Group.

ARTINFO JOBS

Free job arts job search on the website of arts magazine ARTINFO.

Playbill Casting & Jobs

Free searchable listings for jobs in theater.

Idealist

Free searchable non-profit job listings. The site also contains resources and interactive programs for those sharing Idealist’s vision of “a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.

Craigslist Jobs Classifieds

The king of free online job classifieds, Craigslist has listings for full-time, part-time, and internships in sections including “art/media/design,” “nonprofit sector” and “tv/film/video.”

Association of Teaching Artists

A non-profit organization that provides advocacy and professional development for New York State based artists who teach in schools and in the community.

Arts Education Partnership

The Arts Education Partnership provides information and communication about current and emerging arts educational policies, issues and activities at the national, state, and local levels.

Artists Exchange Creative Services for Healthcare

At the Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn artists roll play with the doctors, photograph the neonatal unit, hang visual art in the hallways, in exchange for health care credit. Each hour, that the artist spends providing his/her art, is equal to 40 credits ($40 worth of health care). Credits can be used for any service that the hospital provides.

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Research

Artists in Workforce

This National Endowment for the Arts report from 2009 looks at artists in the workforce between 1990 and 2005.

Arts as an Industry: Their Economic Impact on New York City and New York State

This 2007 report shows that the arts industry has grown as a part of the economic life of New York City and is an integral part of the economy of the entire state of New York.

Manifesto on the Status of the Artist

This manifesto written by the FIM (International Federation of Musicians) and FIA (International Federation of Actors) looks at the status of artists internationally and outlines recommendations for policy change.

Creative New York

The Center for an Urban Future's 2005 report "Creative New York" explores the economic contribution of New York's vast creative sector.

Harnessing Brooklyn’s Creative Capital

The Impact of Self-Employed Creative Professionals on the Borough’s Economy

Culture Builds New York: The Economic Impact of Capital Construction at New York City’s Cultural Institutions, 2003-2010

When the cultural institutions of a great city are themselves actively building new and expanded facilitates, it marks a high point of civilization. As this 2009 report shows such is the case in New York City now and for the past two decades.

Asian American Arts NYC Report

Report from September 2009 looking at trends for Asian American artists in NYC.

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Episode Feedback

What did you think about the episodes?

  • Taylor Mac said:

    Dear me—just watched this and the way they edited it made it seem like I was advocating sacrificing your child for your art but just to be clear… all I was saying is if you trust in your art and fully commit to it, I believe your art will provide for you and yours (assuming that’s what you want).  This isn’t a new age philosophy.  It’s practical.  If you quite your survival job you’ll have more time to make your art, promote your art and perform it (get it out there).  I’m speaking from experience having had a million survival jobs and one day finally saying, no more!  It wasn’t until I fully committed to my art and living a life as an artists (and family member and lover) that I was able to make my living purely as a theater artist.  But there were stakes to help kick me in the ass.  I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent so I had to work freaking hard (as it should be) at the making/promoting/performing in order to do it.  I think our culture has created and perpetuates a myth that artists can’t make a living doing their art unless their really lucky.  But we live in a visual world… so of course a visual artist can make a living making art.  We live in a world full of sound… so of course a musician can make a living.  We live in a world full of words and ideas so of course a theater artist can make their living making theater.

    06/28 - 06:10 PM

  • Aaron said:

    I think the value of this section (and maybe those that follow) is that it illustrates how everyone makes their own model. So, for instance, while I appreciate Taylor’s advice, I personally couldn’t follow my calling if I didn’t feel like I was providing for my son.

    They aren’t mutually exclusive for me. And I need to have both. Even if it means I make fewer projects (but realize them fully).

    06/28 - 06:11 PM

  • Aaron said:

    Taylor - for me there is a kind of Third Way (thank you Bill Clinton? er, anyway). I think quitting crap jobs is always great. I’ve had and quit more than I can count. Because it’s true - the job that makes you wish you were somewhere else eventually takes its toll. BUT, for me there is other stuff I’m interested in doing in the world. Art making is one primary part of it. But so’s teaching, so’s advocacy. And the advantage there is that I make work on my time frame, not a production time frame dictated from without. Now, some artists can work on that external timeline, I just know when I’ve tried to, the work has suffered. So for me, doing work that is meaningful outside my art practice keeps the integrity of my work intact.

    06/28 - 06:15 PM

  • Steven said:

    You always hear this inspirational message – quit your day job, put everything into your art, just believe, and it will all happen for you—from artists who have some level of success that sustains their work, sustains their careers. It is so rare that that happens, even for artists with talent who work hard and sacrifice everything. The artists I want to hear from are the ones who are 50 years old, gave up everything for their art, worked hard, believed in themselves, but have not achieved any sustainable success. We never hear their stories. We never hear how they manage crushing disappointment, poverty, and despair, combined with all the anxieties that come with aging—lack of income, health, loneliness—that come at that stage of an artist’s life? It seems to me that those would be the more useful stories for young artists to hear.

    06/28 - 06:16 PM

  • Kate Stannard said:

    Made Here project is a fantastic way of creating a community and supporting inspiring infrastructure for NYC Artists, as well as educating other artists, students and academics outwith the city. Genius!
    This is a great resource I have emailed the info out to all my students. Fantastic!

    07/06 - 09:36 PM

  • Maedhbh Fiona Mc Cullagh said:

    I just wanted to say that I have been glued to the website for MADE HERE this past hour. It’s a truly inspiring documentary and fascinating to watch. This work creates an important legacy of what is happening right now and it is a gift to the community. Congratulations to you all.

    07/06 - 09:37 PM

  • Anna Kohler said:

    I really enjoyed the videos, lovely work, witty and funny and I can’t wait to see more.

    07/06 - 09:38 PM

  • Ann Rosenthal said:

    Congrats on Made Here!  It’s really great and fantastically well filmed/produced.  I can see that once all of these films are made it will make a more than compelling case for the importance of artists in this city…and why they should be better supported forever!

    07/06 - 09:39 PM

  • William Cusick said:

    I saw the first episode today.  It’s sooo good!!  It’s really exciting to see such an intelligent and well conceived documentary series on NYC theater artists.  And I love the theme song.

    Great stuff!

    07/06 - 09:44 PM

  • Cesar Augusto said:

    Amazing website with the kind of support I need. Keep going guys!

    07/06 - 09:45 PM

  • Anne said:

    Thanks for providing a great platform to all artists! All artists face the same basic problems at some point in their career, and this website offers valuable advice on balancing a family, finding a space and working in a crap-job in order to supplement your income.  Thanks!

    07/06 - 09:46 PM

  • Amos said:

    very cool….grazie!!!

    07/06 - 09:46 PM

  • Marya said:

    I love this.
    Well made.
    Important.
    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

    07/06 - 09:48 PM

  • tickytac said:

    I quit my day job to pursue an art career. While I had some moderate success it never lead to anything substantial. After a while of surviving on piecemeal opportunities, I broke down and accepted a job offer. I was so broke at the time I had no real choice. I feel I am no longer the main character in the story of my life. However, even back then I felt I was filled up with helium and let go with nothing to grab before the atmosphere finally swept me away. I know how to work hard, I just don’t know how to push forward. However, I am happy for those who become successful. There is a language for that, I can recognize but not understand.

    09/23 - 09:02 PM

  • Mieke D said:

    Thank you both Taylor and Aaron for expanding this discussion! (Sorry folks, my attention span stopped short after the first two comments). As much as financial realism has dominated my life choices, I really appreciate Taylor’s unapologetic ass-whooping! No matter what, to be an artist, and to be an EFFECTIVE artist, takes risk, one of which includes living on the edges of survival. If it weren’t for the urgency & necessity of art, why would we do it? If we were constantly rewarded by capitalism, might we not question our effectiveness at challenging it? However, I do believe in the possibility of having multiple lives. Mine—community organizing & art-making—in constant dialogue, as one person crosses back and forth between the useless borders that divide them. The balance between those two devotions is definitely an important question, but not a prescription.  I agree with Taylor in that it’s not enough to simply do what we’re told we must, but to fight to find our own way to do what we KNOW we must, even if it’s hard as hell.

    09/27 - 10:17 PM

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your stories

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  • What has been your favorite/strangest “other” job and why?
  • Interview your boss! Why does he/she employ artists and how do artists contribute to the workplace?
  • From Jennifer De La Vega:

    Weird other job was a corporate job at Neilson where for four hours, I was given random TV prime time to watch and I had to tick and time every single piece of product placement during the sports events or reality TV and just general programming and it was most awful and exciting thing at the same time.

  • From Maria Yoon:

    My day job is an educator at various different museums in New York City. And the places that I love so much, why not work in that environment?

  • From Ari Amir:

    As an opera singer by night and a administrative assistant by day, Ari Amir’s oddest-job “was a biker in Tel Aviv. I would ride for 9 or 10 hours a day and it’s hot there.”