The Artistic Dividend Revisited

Ann Markusen, Greg Schrock, and Martina Cameron
Reviewed by Cara Seitchek, Writer's Center, Bethesda, MD

March 2004, 27 pages. Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue, Room 231, Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 625-8092, or or,

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The Artistic Dividend Revisited updates the 2003 publication of The Artistic Dividend: The Arts’ Hidden Contributions to Regional Development, which was reviewed in the Winter 2004 issue of GIA Reader. Using the results of the 2000 U.S. Census, Ann Markusen and her associates have broadened the previous study to include the most up-to-date information on artists and artistic work in metro areas.

This new data underscored the large amount of artistic activity in three metro areas — Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. These areas attract artists in disproportionately large shares of the workforce. They consistently exceed the national norm for artistic employment and rank in the top three for all artistic occupations.

Based on 2000 census data, the prominence of these “Arts Super Cities” can be explained by several factors, including a growth in arts funding, increased tourist activity, and a more concentrated pursuit of the arts by city leaders and economic development organizations.

Although the “Super Cities” have a substantial lead over the rest of the nation, the study also found sizeable artistic concentrations in several mid-sized metros, many of which seemed to be more “local-serving” in their artistic pursuits. Despite the strengths of the three metro areas, artistic pursuits seem to be secure occupations in the second-tier metro areas as well.

The census data also showed surprising variations in artistic specialties for selected metro areas, with Los Angeles leading in performing artists, New York leading in authors, and visual artists congregating in Orange County and San Diego. These “niches” further strengthen the artistic promise of many metro areas.

An addition to the previous study is an analysis of architects and designers as part of the pool of artistic talent. While these occupations are more likely to be full-time jobs, they echo the trends seen with the other artistic specialties. While most of the cities with high rankings for artists retain a high proportion of architects and designers, other cities, such as Detroit, enter the ranking when the data is controlled for these two occupations. The change seems to reflect manufacturing activities in the cities, for example, the auto manufacturing that dominaties the Detroit landscape.

A third occupation specifically addressed is advertising, an industry that employs a large variety of artists. Again, New York and San Francisco top the list of metro cities, with Chicago joining them in third place. While it is unclear whether the industry or the occupation is the motivating factor for the strong presence of advertising in these areas, a strong link between the two is supported by census data.

Finally, using census data allowed the study to analyze self-employment trends, a gap in data not filled by employment statistics. The census-based findings showed a higher proportion of self-employed workers than previously thought. With the advent of the Internet, many artists have access to communities beyond where they live. Also, many artists earn their artistic income as a second job that supplements their full-time job. With a special focus on self-employed writers, the study found widely varying rates across the country.

The Artistic Dividend Revisited fills in other gaps in the previous study. The information presented does not contradict the original findings, but amplifies and strengthens the case already made. Using the 2000 Census data adds value and depth to the previous study and again shows the importance that artists bring to our communities, cities, and nation.