Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia
November 12, 2017
Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia by David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya is the sixth in a series carried out independently over thirty years by Professor Throsby at Macquarie University, with funding from the Australia Council. The series tracks trends in the lives and working conditions of Australian artists over 30 years and identifies challenges and opportunities for artists’ careers into the future. Aspects explored include:
- the composition of the artist population
- education and training
- career progression
- income and expenditure
- patterns of working time
- professional practice issues
- intellectual property and copyright issues
- use of digital technology
The artists surveyed covered eight broad areas of practice: actors/directors; community arts and cultural development (CACD) artists; composers; craft practitioners; dancers/choreographers; musicians; visual artists; and writers.
The data can be explored through interactive dashboards and from the perspective of professional Australian artists.
Making Art Work: A summary and response by the Australia Council for the Arts highlights a number of challenges and opportunities faced by professional artists.
- How can artists balance creative work with earning a living?
- How is societal and technological change impacting Australian artists and their work?
- How are artists’ skills, capabilities and ways of working aligned with future workforce needs?
- How can professional artists be supported, protected and remunerated into the future?
These questions are explored in the Australia Council’s companion report. Key survey findings are placed alongside other literature and analysis to highlight and contextualise emerging trends, and to discuss what they mean for Australian artists into the future.
Scroll down or click links below to explore more findings through our eight interactive dashboards. Filter results by art form.
The artist population
Demographics of artists
Mean and median incomes
Sources of income
Usage of internet
There are 48,000 practising professional artists in Australia – a number that has remained relatively steady since the 1990s. Explore trends in the artist population by art form here.
Explore here how the artist population varies by gender, location, age group, disability and non-English speaking background.
Average gross annual income for artists (from all sources) is $48,400. When adjusted for inflation, average incomes have fallen by 4% since 2009. Explore here how incomes differ by area of practice.
Artists receive income from a variety of sources including royalties from copyright collecting societies. Explore by area of practice.
Explore the main sources of financial assistance by area of practice.
Explore issues related to artists’ careers here.
Explore artists’ work status, minimum income requirements, and rating of business skills here.
Artists increasingly use technology and the internet in their creative practice. Explore by area of practice here.