Strategic National Arts Alumni Project

FOR RELEASE: September 15, 2016

Contact: Sally Gaskill
Phone: 812-856-5824

Study on Arts Graduates Provides Continuing Evidence on the
Value of an Arts Degree

Bloomington, IN: A study released by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) provides new evidence that individuals with degrees in the arts from North American institutions are extremely satisfied with their arts education, with no substantive changes across income levels and employment status.

The 2016 SNAAP Annual Report, “Institutional Connections, Resources, and Working Across Disciplines: What Arts Alumni are Saying” analyzes data from more than 35,000 arts alumni of all ages who responded to the annual SNAAP survey in fall 2015.

More than nine out of ten arts alumni (91%) of all ages rated their overall arts degree program as either “good” or “excellent.” According to SNAAP Director Sally Gaskill of the Indiana University School of Education, “This finding that arts alumni are extremely satisfied with their college education is consistent with our previous results of over 130,000 arts alumni from 300 institutions beginning in 2008.”

The 2016 report examines what graduates say they need to advance their careers as professional artists. The most important resource that graduates say they need but lack access to is ‘publicity and recognition of their work.’ Unfortunately, the arts are not immune from larger, well-documented patterns of race-based disparities in borrowing opportunities. In the 2015 SNAAP survey, more than one in five Black current artists (21%) said they lack access to “loans and investment capital” compared to only 12% of their white counterparts.

To better understand the careers of arts alumni, the 2015 SNAAP survey added a question asking whether their artistic practice has “involved working across multiple art forms/disciplines.” Three-quarters (75%) of respondents who have ever worked as artists said they have worked across artistic disciplines. Alexandre Frenette, postdoctoral scholar at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the report’s primary author, said, “These results highlight how artists need a broad, constantly-evolving set of skills to build and sustain their careers.” He added, “It appears that working across disciplines has become increasingly important to stay in the arts; current artists are more likely to say they have worked across multiple art forms (78%) than those alumni who previously, but no longer, work as artists (66%).”

Additional findings include:

  • Percentage of current and former artists who work across multiple art forms, by a sample of majors:
    • Fine and Studio Art – 81%
    • Design – 80%
    • Theater – 76%
    • Dance – 72%
    • Music – 60%
    • Creative Writing – 53%

  • Percentage of alumni who feel “very” or “somewhat” connected to their institution, by institution type:
    • Baccalaureate Colleges – 74%
    • Doctoral Universities – 63%
    • Special Focus (Art, Design, Music) Schools - 56%
    • Masters Colleges and Universities - 52%

  • Current artists who report that they do not need any of the resources listed in the survey (e.g. grants, publicity, further education) to advance their career:
    • 26% of those graduating 1985 and before
    • 3% of those graduating in the last 5 years

“SNAAP data continue to be the most important resource for learning about the careers and education of our nation’s thousands of arts graduates who enter our creative economy each year,” said Steven Tepper, Research Director of SNAAP and Dean of ASU’s Herberger Institute. “We are learning what makes a difference in helping graduates find meaningful work and how to better support them throughout their careers.”

Participation in SNAAP is open to all degree-granting colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Schools can enroll in either a one-year survey administration or elect a three-year membership. Registration for the SNAAP 2017 survey will open in spring 2017 at


SNAAP is a collaboration between the
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and the
Indiana University School of Education, Center for Postsecondary Research.
More information including an interactive SnaapShot is available at

Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
Indiana University School of Education, Center for Postsecondary Research
1900 East 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47406