National Endowment for the Arts’ Cultural Workforce Symposium

What: A day-long forum about America’s artists, other cultural workers, and how art works as a part of the American economy.

When: November 20, 2009

Where: Washington, DC

Why: The NEA gathered together a group of scholars and others to make brief presentations on recent research, discuss how to improve the collection and reporting of statistics about cultural workers, and begin to develop future research agendas and approaches.

Who: Researchers who are working to measure and understand the work habits and economic condition of individual artists in the United States. Presenters included:

  • Steven J. Tepper, Vanderbilt University (SNAAP senior scholar)
  • Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota (member, SNAAP national advisory board)
  • David Cohen, AFL-CIO
  • Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University
  • Greg Wasall, Northeastern University
  • Maria Rosario Jackson, The Urban Institute
  • Joan Jeffri, Research Center for Arts and Culture, Columbia University
  • Nick Rabkin, University of Chicago
  • Judilee Reed, Levering Investments in Creativity (LINC)

Steven Tepper’s presentation on SNAAP received much attention; a number of the presenters referred to it and its importance in learning about the creative workforce. One of the audience members, David Ian Moss, summarized Steven’s presentation as follows:

This innovative program looks at alumni of arts training programs (including arts high schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, conservatories, and graduate schools) to better understand the career paths of graduates and help clarify what core instruction those programs should provide. As Tepper emphasized, it also holds a number of interesting research possibilities since most studies only look at the people who eventually became artists, not the people who intended to become artists but for whatever reasons ended up on a different path. Thus, there’s no way to gauge what factors play a role in exit except by considering a larger group such as this one.

Participants at the forum noted that SNAAP could become one of the most important on-going data collection efforts in the arts, on par with the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts and the Census Bureau’s regularly collected data on arts occupations and workers.