The image of the consumptive, starving artist eking out a poor living in a drafty attic or moldering warehouse is the stuff of legend and opera, but hardly of reality. Today's artists are highly educated professionals active on the world stage and essential to the U.S. economy. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, artists constitute a workforce that is 2 million strong with an aggregate income of approximately $70 billion annually. Artists are everywhere. They are lighting designers, furniture designers, fabric designers, clothing designers and computer designers. They sing, dance, make music, direct movies, do voiceovers and animate the world's best-loved films. They create the advertising you love to hate. They illustrate medical textbooks and children's storybooks. Design skyscrapers. Magazines. Websites. And the car you drove to work or to school this morning. They are glass blowers, painters, potters, art restoration experts, interior designers and teachers. They are everywhere. And you could be one of them.
For more information on careers in the arts, read:
Artists in the Workforce 1990-2005, available as a PDF from the National Endowment for the Arts
The Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009 Edition is available from the Department of Labor.
And for information on the importance and value of quality arts education and the issues involved in achieving it, try:
The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and published in June, 2009