Artists' income

The Australia Council artists survey, Don't give up your day job, collected information relating to practising professional artists in Australia.

The survey included full-time and part-time artists; employed and self-employed artists; and artists regardless of whether all, some or none of their income was from art practice.

The survey did not include artists whose primary involvement was in design (furniture, interior, fashion, industrial, architectural or graphic); artists working primarily in the film industry; or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists working in remote Indigenous communities.

According to Don't give up your day job, in 2000-01, artists earned an average of just over $24,000 from creative and other arts-related work. The average total income, including non-arts related work was about $37,000.

On average, musicians had the highest arts-related incomes, while community cultural development workers had the lowest.

Overall, actors, writers and musicians fared best in terms of average total incomes; dancers and community cultural development workers did least well.

Mean earned income of artists(a), 2000-01 financial year

Practising professional artists

Creative income ($)

Other arts-related income ($)

Total arts income ($)

Total non-arts income ($)

Total income ($)

Writers

20,400

6,100

26,400

19,700

46,100

Visual artists

12,600

7,300

20,000

9,300

29,300

Craft practitioners

19,100

4,000

23,300

7,000

30,300

Actors

22,500

5,000

27,400

14,300

41,700

Dancers

16,700

7,100

23,900

3,000

26,900

Musicians

17,700

9,800

27,600

13,500

41,100

Composers

12,700

14,000

26,700

11,500

38,200

Community cultural development workers

8,400

8,300

16,700

9,400

26,100

Total

17,100

7,400

24,600

12,600

37,200

(a) Mean average incomes may be strongly affected by outliers, that is, extreme values within a particular sample. Although the incomes of the majority of artists are relatively low, a few enjoy very high earnings. This sample contains several artists who earned incomes above $200,000 in 2000-01.

Note: All income is gross (pre-tax) income.

Source: Australia Council, Donít give up your day job: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia (Throsby and Hollister 2003).

Artistsí income, even counting non-arts related income, is below the income earned by others in the workforce. It is particularly poor when compared with professionals who have undergone 4-6 years of training, which is similar to the length of training undertaken by many practising professional artists. In 2000-01, artists earned a mean average of $37,200, compared with other workforce professionals who earned $54,400.

Source

Australia Council, Donít give up your day job: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia (Throsby and Hollister 2003).

Links

Australia Council, 2005, Artswork2: a report on Australians working in the arts.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employment in Culture, 2006 (cat. no. 6273.0).

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2009, Census of Population and Housing (cat. no. 4172.0).

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview, 2009, Employment and Voluntary Work (cat. no. 4172.0).

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, April 2007 (cat. no. 6281.0).

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