The Arts: Not Just Artists (and vice versa): New Methodological Approaches towards Understanding the Economic Composition of Arts

November, 2009


The arts have been seriously considered in scholarship and practice for their role in the economic development. Yet, efforts to capture the full contribution of the arts to regional economies prove difficult. Using a three-tiered data approach, we look at the relationship between artistic occupations and artistic industries on both the national and regional level. We then compare the thirty largest metro areas. To demonstrate the place-specific nature of the arts, we compare these findings to an in depth look at three regional economies: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. We perform a series of correlation and variance tests using the Herfindahl Index to analyze the linkages between the presence of artistic industries and occupations. Over fifty percent of artists do not work in artsrelated industries. Artistic industries tend to rely on a dense and complicated network of labor pools, many of which are “nonartistic”. “The arts” and artists are not necessarily the same thing.

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