AIR – Artists Interaction and Representation – have had research done by a-n on employment patterns for visual and applied artists. This was in the context of the Future Jobs Fund and the work done by New Deal of the Mind that I talked about a short while ago. I commented then that the focus on employment by employers, and the exclusion of self-employment, was problematic. The summary of the findings appears to back that up. I quote…
Whilst previous research by a-n, ACE and others over the last ten years suggested at least half of all practising visual and applied artists were self-employed, the new AIR survey reveals that has substantially increased.
72% of artists are self-employed
25% are a mixture of self-employed and employed
2% are unemployed
1% is employed
In terms of status by career stage:
88% of established artists are self-employed
73% of mid career artists are self-employed
67% of emerging artists are self-employed
Significantly, the overall level of self-employment amongst artists is considerably higher than for the creative industries as a whole, where it stands at 41%.
They also note that self-employment is currently excluded by the Office of Statistics when analysing the efficacy of art and design courses in creating employment, which seems perverse, given the career trajectories of those graduates.
Whilst this pattern will not be replicated right across the artforms, it is important that it is taken into full consideration by government and policy makers looking to ‘create jobs’ within the creative industries.