Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stand Up and Be Counted Survey Results

The Artist Foundation of Massachusetts undertook a survey of working and hobby artists of all types in 2008 which I have blogged about both when I encouraged others to respond as well as some initial information released earlier.  The survey was based on a similar one done in 2007, by Springboard for the Arts, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and the Minnesota Craft Council.  Interestingly the results - while based on more participants here in MA - had almost the same results. 
While the report is 63 pages, it is well laid out making it easy to read through the basics and even dig into some of the details without feeling overwhelmed.  Some of the biggest findings were that most of the artists make their living from outside jobs because they can not afford to just survive on their art - especially now with the state required health insurance.  Also, it is important to note that of those responding, over 80% said they vote regularly which make them a political force IF they organized themselves.  To see the results go to http://www.artistsfoundation.org/.
One of the more interesting findings they had was about the economic base for the responding artists, I will quote directly from the executive summary:
Stand Up and Be Counted also provided valuable information about how Massachusetts artists are accessing grant opportunities. Although conventional wisdom is that grant awards support a significant portion of the artists community, Stand Up and Be Counted shows that that isn’t the case. Of the 2,264 respondents who answered the question, only 41% reported that they had ever applied for a grant; of those who said they had applied for a grant, only 35.7% reported that they had ever received one (or an in-kind donation for their art). Last, most of the grants awarded to the 791 respondents who answered the question were for less than $1,000, and 79% reported receiving grants totaling less than $4,999.
I have been following a fellow blogger who has a blog specific to making artists of all types aware of grants, stipends and foundations for artists, writers, crafters, etc., Mira's List http://miraslist.blogspot.com/ and this comment from the survey really struck me because Mira's blog has become so popular (based from a popular email list she had) due to how difficult it is for artists to find grants and other funding for their work.  Also, there were comments on the survey from artists who lived in other countries for a time or who had duel citizenship about how they were supported and valued as artists in other countries.  Wonder what it would take to change the attitude towards artists here?  Let us try to use the power this survey gives us (knowledge is power) to make changes for artists.

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