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Stability and change

Telemark Research Institute

Knut Løyland (born 1961, degree in economics at University of Oslo in 1990). Løyland worked at Statistics Norway 1990-91 and has since then worked as a researcher at Telemark Research Institute. He has mainly been working on issues in local public finance, labour market and cultural economics and has published articles on these issues both nationally and internationally. He is also teaching cultural economics at Telemark University College. E-mail: Loyland@tmforsk.no

Telemark Research Institute

Mari Torvik Heian, (Corresponding Author) (born 1978, degree in sociology at Bergen University in 2004). Heian has worked at Telemark Research Institute since 2005 and been involved in several research projects on cultural policy, including a survey about artists’ activity, work and income conditions. Heian is now working on a Phd on social inequality among artists, which is based on data from the mentioned survey. E-mail: Heian@tmforsk.no

Telemark Research Institute and Telemark University college

Per Mangset (born 1944) is a professor of cultural studies/cultural policy at Telemark University College, and a senior researcher at Telemark Research Institute. He is a sociologist of culture. Mangset has published several books, articles and reports about cultural policy, sociology of art and sports policy. He was also one of the initiators of the International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR), the Scientific Committee of which he currently coordinates. E-mail: Per.Mangset@hit.no

The purpose of the survey that this paper is based on is to obtain new information about the work and income conditions of working artists living and working in Norway. We have mapped the artists’ gender, age, and place of residence, as well as general and professional artistic educational background. We have studied differences both between and within the different artistic groups. Furthermore we have looked into different aspects of the artists’ income, including social security and pensionable income. The survey also shows that the development in real income from 1993 to 2006 among different artist groups is moderate compared with the income development of other occupational groups.

Keywords: Professional artists, work, income, Norway

1. Introduction1

Pursuing an artistic career is risky. Many of those who wish to be artists fail to realise their dreams. And many of the artists who manage to establish themselves as professional artists must live with a low and unstable income. Yet still the number of artists increases. This applies not only to Norway; the artist population has increased considerably in most rich countries in recent decades. Nevertheless, many young people today still seek an artistic career, even if it is risky both economically and artistically. The level of demand in arts markets is not large enough for all those who want to pursue an artistic career and, consequently, there is a permanent ‘reserve force’, or excess supply of artists, in most artistic markets. And this fact seems to be a persistent structural feature of western arts markets. Thus many artists find it difficult to earn a decent income from artistic work only.

Certain features of artistic works make them subject to market failures: they can be considered as public goods or there are positive externalities related to the consumption of them, cf. for instance Towse (2010). Thus it is worthwhile supporting artists, directly or indirectly, in order to stimulate arts production that would otherwise not be provided by any arts markets. Public support to artists is an important feature of Norwegian arts policy and, according to Heikkinen (2003), public support is also better developed in Norway and other Nordic countries than in the rest of the world. In order to implement appropriate policy measures, the central government has in recent decades funded studies of Norwegian artists’ work and income conditions (NOU 1981, Elstad & Pedersen 1996, Heian et al. 2008). These studies are used as a knowledge base and source of information when arts policy issues are on the agenda. Trade unions organising artists have also been a driving force behind the execution of such surveys and may have special interests in putting on the agenda issues related to artists’ living conditions. In Norway most professional artists are members of national arts organisations of this kind. It is therefore easier to conduct such surveys in Norway than in many other countries.

This paper provides an overview of some of the sociological, demographic, and economic characteristics of the Norwegian artist population. The purpose of the paper is both descriptive and explanatory. By means of a descriptive overview of both work and income conditions in 2006, and changes in these conditions from 1994 to 2006, we offer a useful informational basis of the ‘Nordic model’ for international comparative analyses. The descriptive analysis also highlights some specific research problems of general interest: (i) How does the influx of new recruits to the arts affect the income situation of artists? (ii) Is it possible to control the ‘excess supply’ of artists in order to secure most artists a decent income, and avoid a situation where even more artists are being educated only to find themselves unemployed or underemployed? (iii) Finally, are most Norwegian artists pampered by central government grants, enabling them to avoid the economic risk of the arts markets?

The paper is organised as follows. In section 2 we present a brief overview of previous and related surveys. Sections 3 and 4 describe the methodology, population, and the samples used, including the representativeness of the respondents and the total number of artists, while section 5 describes some demographic characteristics of the Norwegian artist population, i.e. the number of active artists and their distribution in relation to gender, age, place of residence, and educational level. We also describe how these characteristics have changed in recent decades, particularly from 1994 to 2006. In section 6 we provide an overview of the artist’s work hours, types of work, and connection to working life, including changes from 1993 to 2006. In sections 7 and 8 we describe several aspects of the Norwegian artist’s income situation, including how this is affected by public grants. In section 9 we describe how Norwegian artists’ income has changed from 1993 to 2006. Finally, section 10 briefly describes some findings on income differences among artists, while section 11 offers some conclusions.

2. Previous studies

The first national survey in Norway that included most of the artist groups was carried out in 1979-80, cf. NOU (1981). This survey has been used as a basis for comparison with corresponding studies such as Elstad and Røsvik Pedersen (1996) and Heian et al. (2008). These surveys give a recurring impression of an increasing number of artists and that income among artists is low compared with other occupations. There are significant differences in income level between the various artistic groups as well, and income distribution among artists is asymmetrical. Thus a large proportion of artists have a relatively low income, while a few have very high incomes. To compensate for low income, many artists also have income from artistically related and/or non-artistic work in addition to that from artistic work.

A recent study of artists’ income in Sweden suggests that the results of the Norwegian studies also apply to Sweden (Konstnärsnämnden/SCB 2009). Most artists have low incomes, even though they are highly educated, and there are income inequalities, both between and within the artist groups. The majority of Swedish artists also compensate for low artistic income with income from artistically related and/or non-artistic work. Furthermore, the main findings in the Norwegian and Swedish studies are closely related to the findings in corresponding studies in other western countries. The growth in the artist population is, for instance, documented in Menger (2006) and Alper and Wassall (2006) for France and the US respectively. Menger (2006) also provides an overview and an analysis of the excess supply issue as well as of the skewed income distribution. Using panel data over a period of 60 years (1940-1999), Alper and Wassall (2006) find that the average earnings of artists are consistently lower than those of other persons with a similar educational level.

Based on the findings in studies like those referred to above, one would expect an artistic career to be subject to high economic risk. While both the economic and symbolic rewards for those who succeed are enormous, the risk of failure is also very high. Thus, it seems reasonable to have alternative strategies in order to counteract low-income situations. Baumol and Bowen (1966) suggest that artists have three main strategies to reduce risk: 1) support from spouses, other family members, or friends; 2) subsidies, grants, etc. from the state or private organisations; 3) last but not least, multiple jobholding. This way of dividing artists’ income sources demands a distinction between artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic work and income. Such a distinction was introduced by Throsby (1992, 1994) in order to capture possible differences in artists’ work preferences.

Filer (1986), however, claims that artists are acting as any other employee or self-employed worker. Artists do not have to take more risks than others. Based on his findings, he states that ‘there is no basis for concluding that artists earn any less on average than they would in other jobs’ (p. 73). In other words, Filer argues that the image of the poor artist is a myth and it is not necessary to advance any extraordinary portrayal of the artists’ working conditions. Filer has been criticised, however, for instance by Alper and Wassall (1997), for using data from the US Census, which report on the total labour income of artists. They claim that a relatively large variation in the earnings of artists is partially masked in data from such sources. Because many artists are multiple jobholders, their earnings and working hours cannot be related to their artistic work only. Another problem is that many of those who mainly earn their income from non-artistic work, but consider themselves to be artists, are ignored because they are registered as employed in other labour markets.

Nevertheless, an increasing number of aspiring artists seek artistic occupations. One reason why artists accept the risk involved is their strong preference for artistic work, see for instance Throsby (1994), Bourdieu (1996) and Menger (2006). According to this literature artists derive satisfaction from their work. Thus, in contrast to other groups of workers, they accept lower and uncertain income because artistic work satisfies alternative needs. Menger (2006:777) calls attention to the non-monetary nature of artistic occupations, and argues that artists are receiving ‘psychic income’:

Artistic work can be considered as highly attractive along a set of measurable dimensions of job satisfaction that include the variety of the work, high level of personal autonomy, a low level of routine, and a high degree of social recognition for successful artists.

Similarly, Bourdieu (1996) claims that artists are more interested in artistic valuation and appreciation than in monetary income. Artists are, he continues, disposed to deny the economic aspects of life. Artistic work carried out in order to achieve monetary income is considered inconsistent with the artistic ideal and can even result in artistic devaluation. Thus, artistic success does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with economic success. This phenomenon is described as the double economy of the arts, cf. Bourdieu (1996) and Abbing (2002).

The terms ‘psychic income’ and the ‘double economy’ are helpful in explaining the existence of a persistent excess supply of artists: positive psychic income implies that artists are willing to accept a lower monetary reward for doing artistic work than they would have obtained in a regular job market. From a neo-classical economics point of view, such behaviour cannot be properly explained because work is assumed to be a disutility. From the perspective of an economic approach allowing for work preferences, however, the persistent nature of the excess supply is to be expected.

3. Methodology, definition of artists, and representativeness of the sample

The artist population in this survey is defined from an arts policy point of view, which includes artist groups that have access to, or in principle can receive grants from, the Norwegian Government Grants for Artists scheme (GGA). The objective of the grant and guaranteed income programme is to give creative and performing artists the opportunity to pursue their artistic career. The grants include: 1) Work grants (1-5 years) that provide artists with the opportunity to work with projects or in-depth artistic exploration to further develop their artistic work. 2) Work grants earmarked for younger and newly established artists (< 35 years) in order to offer them an opportunity to make a living out of their arts work. 3) Miscellaneous grant: Allotted to artists for specific purposes such as travel, studies (not basic education), or materials, marketing, consulting, etc relevant to the applicant's artistic work and development (http://kunstnerstipend.no/english/).

In practice this includes creative and performing artists from 27 genres who mainly live and work in Norway. The distribution of grants is provided by the Ministry of Culture, in agreement with expert committees representing each artist group. A large proportion of Norwegian artists are members of artist organisations, and this study, as the two former representative surveys of the artist population in Norway (NOU 1981:28, Elstad and Pedersen, 1996), is mainly based on membership directories from these organisations.

Of a total of 16,020 unique memberships (membership population),2 we have drawn a disproportionately stratified (gross) sample of 7,592 artists from the membership directories in 33 artist organisations. 3 Barely 40% responded to the survey, significantly fewer than in the 1994 survey (Elstad & Røsvik Pedersen 1996).4 However, the response rate for surveys like the present one has decreased generally over the last 20 years. For instance, the response rate for the national Norwegian household surveys carried out to obtain weightings to calculate the consumer price index has decreased from about 70% in 1986 to about 50% in 2002 (Løyland & Ringstad 2009).

Moreover, on the basis of information collected in the survey, the working artist population is censored according to some criteria for what is regarded as a working artist. The censoring is based on the definition used in the previous study on Norwegian artists’ work and income conditions (cf. Elstad & Røsvik Pedersen 1996). Thus, we are able to compare many of the results of the two studies. The definition of a working artist is restricted to members of one of the 33 artist organisations that have been artistically active at least one of the last five years (from 2002 to 2006) and are not living abroad. Arts students who are not working, i.e. who had less than NOK 10,000 in artistic income in 2006,5 are excluded. Of the 2,985 members in 33 artists’ organisations who responded to the survey, 585 were not active according to our definitions.6 Thus 2,400 artists (net sample) satisfying our definition, have responded. Low artistic income, education, and changing to a different occupation are important reasons why artists choose to end their artistic career.7

In the survey, we asked about artistic occupation, artistic education, work participation, artistic, artistic related and non-artistic income, grants and compensation, pension and insurance, absence due to sickness, and maternity/paternity leave. Additionally, we asked about attitudes towards artistic occupations and information about their parents’ education and occupation, and ethnicity.

The membership directories include the entire population of 16,020 artists from which we drew the sample. By a personal identification number the directories are merged with administrative data of for instance pensionable income, salary, assets, gender and age. Thus we also have access to important information for those in the sample who did not respond to the survey as well as for those who were not drawn. This has been important in order to evaluate the representativeness of the net sample.

About 47 % of the 16 020 artists in the membership population are women, while working women make up 45 % of the 2,400 individuals in the sample. Thus women are slightly underrepresented in the sample. However, in some organisations and artist groups the discrepancy is larger. In terms of age distribution the representation in our sample is good, although the youngest age group is slightly underrepresented. The share of artists in the age group from 51 to 70 has increased since 1994, but this could be caused by differences in the sample rather than a change in the age structure. The representativeness of the sample is good when it comes to place of residence as well. Both in the sample and in the membership population 47 % live in the Oslo metropolitan area.

Since we have information about pensionable income for both the 2,400 who responded and anonymous information about the 16,020 in the artist population as a whole, we have also information about potential biases with respect to income. It turns out that persons with a high pensionable income are on average somewhat overrepresented in the net sample. However, there are both positive and negative biases among the individual arts organisations. The largest positive bias is for NOPA (the Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists), where there is a considerably higher average pensionable income in the sample than in the population. There were also similar, positive biases for several other music organisations and some other organisations, while we found negative biases in the sample drawn from the Norwegian Film Critics’ Association, the Norwegian Association of Fine Art Photographers, and, in part, the Norwegian Authors’ Union.

4. The artist population and the number of active artists

Our estimate of the number of working artists is based on the three sources of information mentioned in note iii). The estimated number of artists based on the membership directories is presented in Table 1. In the questionnaire the respondents have identified themselves as artists according to 20 artistic groups predefined by us. Thus, an artist who is a member of NOPA might be found in the artistic group ‘Musicians, singers and conductors’ instead of ‘Composers of popular music’ if the respondent in question considers that more in line with his or her artistic career.

The most recent extensive survey (1994) based on membership directories estimated the number of artists in Norway to be about 6,800, cf. Elstad and Røsvik Pedersen (1996). We calculated the number of artists in 2006 to be approximately 14,200, which represents a 110 % increase since 1994. However, this increase is due to both a real increase in the number of artists and a broader definition of the artist population, the latter primarily because more musicians participated in the present survey. After correcting for this, we calculated the actual increase in the artist population from 1994 to 2006 to be 31 %. The increase arising from the expanded definition is calculated to be 60 %. An alternative procedure estimated the increase in membership in 20 organisations from 1994 to 2006 to be 38 %. This supports the finding of a real increase in the artist population of 30-40 % from 1994 to 2006.

Table 1. Estimates of the number of active artists who are members of an artists’ organisation in Norway, 1994 and 2006

   

Population, 1994

Population, 2006

Growth (%)

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

1580

1952

23.5

 

Artisans

550

663

20.5

 

Fine art photographers

90

148

64.7

 

Designers/illustrators

350

787

124.9

 

Interior architects

285

293

2.7

Writers

Fiction writers

410

497

21.3

 

Dramatists

70

120

71.5

 

Translators

95

155

63.0

 

Non-fiction writers

-

251

-

 

Art critics

-

120

-

Performers

Actors

450

942

109.3

 

Stage directors

90

177

96.9

 

Stage designers

75

96

27.7

 

Film artists

235

489

108.3

 

Dance artists

280

500

78.6

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

1800

4916

173.1

 

Classical composers

115

376

227.0

 

Composers of popular music

75

610

713.3

Rest category

Folk artists

-

117

-

Artists from other art forms

250

1032

312.8

 

Total

6800

14242

109.4

We also calculated the increase in each of the 20 artistic categories from 1994 to 2006 (after weighting). This shows there has been a strong increase within some categories, particularly among film workers, actors, and designers/illustrators, the number of whom has more than doubled since 1994. We also find big increases in the musician categories, but the growth in these will be influenced by the fact that the definition of this artistic category has been considerably extended since 1994. Thus one should be careful when interpreting these figures.

In the 1994 survey, no attempt was made to estimate the number of artists who were not organised in any artists’ organisations (Elstad & Røsvik Pedersen 1996). This has been done in the present study, but we do not present the numbers in a separate table. We estimate the number of non-organised, active artists to be approximately 300, based on the GGA register. A moderate estimate of non-organised artists in the Central register of establishments (CRE) is approximately 4,500. Consequently, we estimate the number of non-organised, active artists in Norway to be approximately 4,800 individuals. If we add this to the estimated number of 14,200 based on the membership directories of the artist organisations, we reach a total of about 19,000 artists in Norway in 2006.

5. Gender, age, education, and place of residence

Are women and men equally represented in the artist population? What is the age distribution? Do artists still live mostly in cities, or are they distributed more evenly across the country? How do their educational level compare with the population as a whole? Knowledge of such structural factors is important in understanding artists’ work and income conditions.

In Table 2 we present some figures on the distribution of gender and place of residence for a selection of Norwegian artists’ organisations. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient information from the 1994 survey to present the figures for the full set of artist groups presented in Table 1. Based on available information on several organisations, Table 2 still gives a fair impression of the gender distribution and geographical centralisation of the Norwegian artist population.

In line with previous surveys, the survey indicates that there are some typical male and female artist occupations. Men predominate among musicians, dramatists, non-fiction freelancers, and film artists, while interior architects, artisans, and dance artists are typically women’s occupations. The distribution of men and women is more even among actors, critics, and fine art photographers, with the share of female artists having increased significantly in the last-mentioned group since 1994. The share of women has increased in some other organisations as well; the share of male members, however, has not increased in organisations that had a female majority in 1994. All in all, our numbers indicate a clear feminisation of the artist population from 1994 to 2006: the share of female artists has increased in 13 of the 15 organisations we are able to compare. 8 Whether such a feminisation is due to successful democratisation of access to some rare and prestigious occupations, or whether it represents a disturbing devaluation of such occupations, is open to discussion.

Table 2. Share of female artists and share of artists resident in the Oslo metropolitan area for selected artists’ organisations, 1994 and 2006 (%)

Organisation

Share of women

Share of artists resident in the Oslo metropolitan area

1994

2006

1994

2006

Norwegian Authors’ Union

23

39

42

55

Norwegian Association of Fine Art Photographers

15

45

65

52

Norwegian Filmworkers’ Association

34

37

72

76

Norwegian Society of Composers

7

16

57

69

Norwegian Association of Literary Translators

44

51

73

74

Norwegian Union for Stage Directors

28

48

74

72

Norwegian Actors' Equity Association

52

55

62

64

National Federation of Norwegian Musical Artists

33

40

78

93

Norwegian Writers for Children

53

52

44

45

Association of Norwegian Visual Artists

51

65

45

44

Norwegian Dancers’ Association

81

82

66

69

Writers’ Guild of Norway

31

31

55

55

Norwegian architects and interior designers Association

62

81

48

52

Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts

77

80

33

33

Norwegian Stage Designers Association

58

93

67

64

N

n.a.

1502

n.a.

1502

The centralisation of the artist population seems to be quite stable in the entire period between 1994 and 2006. In all, 47 % of the artists live in the Oslo metropolitan area. For comparison, approximately 20 % of the Norwegian population lives in the Oslo metropolitan area. In other words, the artist population is much more centrally located than the population as a whole. These findings correspond fairly well to findings in other studies; cf. Menger (1993) and Mangset (1998).

In table 3 we present some figures on the age distribution and share of artists with an artistic education in Norway or abroad9, art theoretical education10, and those without such education. This shows that 80 % of the working artists in the sample are between 31 and 70 years old, 16 % are under 30 and 4 % are over 70 years old.

Table 3. Age distribution and educational background (%)

   

Age distribution (N=2400)

Education (N=2288)

   

< 30

31-50

51-70

> 70

Artistic, Norway

Artistic, abroad

Theoretical

Non- artistic education

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

7

48

39

6

82

10

3

6

 

Artisans

3

43

49

5

71

7

5

17

 

Fine art photographers

14

67

20

0

52

19

7

21

 

Designers/illustrators

21

54

23

3

44

27

8

21

 

Interior architects

12

49

32

7

79

16

2

4

Writers

Fiction writers

6

32

53

9

23

5

34

38

 

Dramatists

8

58

30

5

39

3

29

29

 

Translators

4

20

61

14

5

5

58

32

 

Non-fiction writers

1

21

69

9

14

4

29

54

 

Art critics

13

60

25

3

10

0

76

14

Performers

Actors

20

50

29

0

48

26

8

18

 

Stage directors

6

60

33

0

55

27

6

12

 

Stage designers

12

44

40

4

48

28

16

8

 

Film artists

14

62

21

2

38

25

12

25

 

Dance artists

45

50

6

0

67

24

2

7

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

20

54

23

4

63

9

10

18

 

Classical composers

14

55

26

5

53

10

13

24

 

Composers of popular music

3

52

38

6

24

3

24

48

Rest category

Folk artists

18

36

43

4

50

0

17

33

Artists from various other art forms

17

47

34

2

29

9

21

42

 

Total

16

50

30

4

56

12

12

20

Visual artists, interior architects, and classical composers have the highest educational levels. Very few writers have a professional arts education,11 but many are likely to have a higher education in a non-artistic subject. 12 % of the artists received their education abroad; this applies especially to actors, stage designers, stage directors, film artists, dance artists, photographers, designers, and illustrators. We cannot discern a clear pattern regarding change in educational level among artists in the period from 1994 to 2006. Finally, we find that artists have a higher level of education than the population as a whole. While more than 30 % of the population as a whole has a higher education, about 80 % of the artists have a higher professional or theoretical education in an arts discipline.

6. The artists’ work hours and types of work

According to Throsby (1994) the relationship between artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic work is hierarchically ranked: the artists’ strongest preferences are for artistic work, which is ranked above artistically related work, which in turn is ranked above non-artistic work. Table 4 presents an overview of hours spent on artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic work in 2006. Artistic work is defined as time spent on creative and performing arts work, including practice, rehearsal, research, etc. Artistic related work is defined as work that requires an artistic competence, without being primary artistic work. Typical examples include teaching in arts, advising in various evaluation committees, and formal positions and other representation in arts organisations. Non artistic work includes working hours spent in ordinary labour markets outside the arts field. Those who have only worked with artistic related work in combination with non artistic work are not included.

On average, the working artists carried out about 1,230 hours of artistic work in 2006. This is about the same as in 1994.12 Film artists, classical composers, and stage directors spend more time on artistic work, while dance artists and artists in the category ‘artists from various other art forms’ spend less time. Less than half of the artists carry out artistically related work and approximately 33 % carry out non-artistic work. The usual impression of the artist as a multiple jobholder who combines artistic and artistically related work on the one hand and non-artistic work on the other, is somewhat weakened by these findings. Our results indicate that about 2/3 of the Norwegian artists work full-time on artistic and artistic related work.

Table 4. Share (%) of artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic work for 20 different artist groups in Norway, 2006, N = 1706

 

Artistic categories

Hours of artistic work

(%)

Hours of artistically related work

(%)

Hours of non-artistic work

(%)

Total hours

Visual artist groups

Visual artists

74

13

13

1821

Artisans

76

15

9

1831

Fine art photographers

68

10

22

1570

Designers/illustrators

80

12

8

1606

Interior architects

79

11

10

1481

Writers

Fiction writers

76

10

14

1800

 

Dramatists

87

4

10

1678

 

Translators

67

5

28

1753

 

Non-fiction writers

76

2

22

1646

 

Art critics

58

18

23

1857

Performers

Actors

85

7

8

1704

 

Stage directors

73

23

4

2018

 

Stage designers

76

12

13

1791

 

Film artists

84

6

10

1790

 

Dance artists

62

24

14

1189

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

69

16

16

1706

 

Classical composers

78

16

6

1939

 

Composers of popular music

69

6

25

1840

Rest category

Folk artists

58

23

19

2091

Artists from other art forms

38

13

49

1859

 

Total

(1232) 69

(231) 13

(291) 17

1754

The majority of the artists occupied in artistically related work are teaching an arts subject. The rest are mainly working as union representatives or serving as artistic advisors in various kinds of evaluation committees. The extent of artistically related work varies between the different categories. Except for the fiction writers, there is little such work in the literature field (dramatists, translators, non-fiction writers). On the other hand, dance artists, folk artists, and stage directors spend a relatively large amount of time on artistically related work. The reason why the artists in some categories spend little time on artistically related work may be due to there being a good income potential in this category. It is, however, more likely that some categories do not experience the same market for artistically related work as others (e.g. stage directors). Dramatists, translators, and non-fiction writers, for instance, compensate for a low share of arts-related work by a considerably higher share of non-artistic work.

We find the highest share of non-artistic work among ‘artists from other art forms’, translators, composers of popular music, art critics, fine art photographers and artists in the category non-fiction writers’ with a share of total working hours of 49 %, 28 %, 25 %, 23 %, 22 %, and 22 %, respectively (cf. Table 4). The lowest share is among the stage directors (4 %), classical composers (6 %), and actors (8 %).

There is an equal share of non-artistic work and artistically related work when we calculate the average number of hours worked. However, the median artist in 16 of the total of 20 categories has no artistically related work hours, i.e. fewer than half carry out non-artistic work, approximately one-third or fewer. 13 Finally, more than half (52 %) of the youngest artists (below 30 years) carry out non-artistic work, while the share doing such work decreases by age.14 This suggests that (i) it takes time to establish oneself as an artist and (ii) there is a tendency to abandon the artistic career if you do not succeed before a certain age.

Table 5 shows that the share of full-time actors decreased from 70 % to 54 % between 1994 and 2006. This could be related to the fact that the number of actors increased considerably during that period, without a corresponding increase in demand, cf. Table 1. The increase in the number of actors is mainly due to an extension of the educational opportunities both in Norway and abroad for Norwegians to become an actor.

Fiction writers and translators have increased the number of artistic work hours in the period from 1994 to 2006. The artistic work hours for artisans have increased as well, while those for visual artists have decreased. This could be because the artisans are the group with the smallest increase in number of artists since 1994, compared with the other artist groups. Along with general economic growth and increased demand for art and cultural goods, this may have given the artisans a better opportunity to carry out artistic work than before.

Within the music field the share of full-time classical composers has increased. However, since the increase in the number of classical composers may be a result of the limited number of musicians’ organisations taking part in the 1994 survey, it is hard to compare artistic work hours in 1994 and 2006 within these artist groups (musicians, singers, conductors, composers).

Table 5. Share of artists with more than 1,500 hours’ artistic work a year (full-time artist), %.

 

Artistic categories

Share of full-time artists, 1994

Share of full-time artists, 2006

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

55

49

 

Artisans

43

56

 

Fine art photographers

16

31

 

Designers/illustrators

52

53

 

Interior architects

43

47

Writers

Fiction writers

39

59

 

Dramatists

61

60

 

Translators

25

42

Performers

Actors

70

54

 

Stage directors

43

56

 

Stage designers

62

50

 

Film artists

43

55

 

Dance artists

29

26

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

55

43

 

Classical composers

48

64

 

Composers of popular music

37

43

 

N

n.a.

828

In the Nordic countries there are strong traditions of permanent employment in the performing arts. In the institutional (subsidised) theatres, for instance, the majority of actors have traditionally been employed on permanent contracts, more or less like civil servants and quite often for life. The performing arts are also characterised by a quite strong and uniform structure of subsidised institutions, while private institutions have been almost non-existent and the non-institutional sector quite weak. Over the last 15-20 years, however, profound transformations have taken place within the Norwegian arts field: more artists than before are now working together in temporary projects, more performing artists (actors, stage directors, stage designers, film artists and dance artists) have become freelancers, and recruitment for employment has become more open and competitive, wholly in accordance with international tendencies described by scholars like Boltanski and Chiapello (1999) and Menger (2002). These transformations are partly reflected in Table 6.

The table presents the share of permanently employed artists in 1994 and 2006. The share has increased in particular among film artists, interior architects, and composers of popular music. This is probably not because more jobs have been created in these fields, but rather because more artists are employed in their own company. Thus they may have changed their connection to working life during the period under review. The share of permanent employees has decreased drastically among musicians, singers, conductors, stage designers, dancers, and actors. In the last two groups at least, this is probably because there has been an increase in the number of artists due to an increased number of students being educated at institutions both in Norway and abroad. At the same time, the number of permanent jobs is stagnant or has reduced.

Table 6. Share of artists permanently employed for more than 800 hours per year and for more than 1,200 artistic working hours in total, 1994 and 2006, %

 

Artistic categories

Permanently employed, 1994

Permanently employed , 2006

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

3

2

 

Artisans

3

7

 

Fine art photographers

2

0

 

Designers/illustrators

22

22

 

Interior architects

20

33

Writers

Fiction writers

2

2

 

Dramatists

8

9

 

Translators

0

6

Performers

Actors

43

19

 

Stage directors

23

22

 

Stage designers

28

8

 

Film artists

6

18

 

Dance artists

16

5

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

34

18

 

Classical composers

0

5

 

Composers of popular music

0

23

 

Total

18

13

Many artists are therefore loosely connected to the labour market, and this could lead to a high degree of economic uncertainty. Our study also shows that many artists have several temporary employers/agents (the numbers are not presented here). On average, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, musicians/composers, and actors have three to four employers. Some artists have numerous employers, while others have only a few, implying a distribution skewed upwards.

7. Artistic and other income

How do artistic income and other income vary between artist groups and between gender within the respective artist groups? In the following we present some figures on Norwegian artists’ income in 2006. Again, in accordance with Throsby (1994), who distinguishes between artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic income, we divide occupational income into three sources.

First of all, the figures in Table 7 indicate quite strongly that visual artists, artisans, fine art photographers, art critics, dance artists, and ‘artists from other art forms’ have considerably lower artistic income than the remaining categories. The average income from artistic work increases when we calculate full-time artists only, but this does not change the fairly clear structures that place these artist groups as low-income occupations. For comparison, employed persons in ordinary full-time jobs with a college or university degree, which corresponds fairly well to artists’ educational level, had a wage income of about NOK 450,000 in 2006.

Table 7. Average and median artistic income for all artists and full-time artists (NOK 1000)*, N=2,272

   

All artists

Full-time artists

 

Artistic categories

Average artistic income

Average artistic income women only

Median artistic income

Average artistic income

Median artistic income

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

86.4

73.7

38.3

114.9

89.7

Artisans

109.4

105.4

82.7

139.4

127.6

Fine art photographers

61.9

34.8

7.0

110.5

49.5

Designers/illustrators

235.2

221.1

196.0

400.6

384.5

Interior architects

274.9

287.2

306.3

341.6

341.4

Writers

Fiction writers

216.6

144.8

164.1

294.3

194.9

 

Dramatists

225.5

156.5

161.6

313.1

229.8

 

Translators

233.1

206.9

233.9

309.1

341.0

 

Non-fiction writers

196.4

203.7

126.9

267.7

302.3

 

Art critics

146.6

97.0

81.2

183.5

147.7

Performers

Actors

263.3

217.3

265.7

292.0

294.2

 

Stage directors

250.3

143.0

276.7

358.5

355.4

 

Stage designers

240.3

227.8

262.7

329.3

330.1

 

Film artists

227.0

185.0

211.1

289.7

237.8

 

Dance artists

140.1

129.1

116.5

108.5

97.1

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

209.5

202.6

193.0

249.1

278.2

 

Classical composers

168.2

150.2

158.5

192.0

179.6

 

Composers of popular music

329.6

184.0

134.9

399.8

175.4

Rest category

Folk artists

197.3

129.5

171.1

293.8

236.9

Artists from other art forms

149.9

133.1

48.0

299.4

232.7

 

N

2272

1137

2272

828

828

 

Total

191.1

167.6

154.5

247.1

230.8

*NOK 1000 = EUR 124.2 (2006 average).

The low-income groups are dominated by women. This goes for artisans, visual artists, and dance artists. It is not quite clear whether female artists in particular seek low-income occupations, or whether occupations dominated by women become low-income occupations just because they are dominated by women. Women also have lower artistic income than men within the same artistic groups, and this goes for the typical low-income occupations as well. This would be reasonable if the difference was due to fewer artistic working hours for women than men. If so, the difference would be eliminated, or become less significant, if we looked at full-time artists alone. However, the opposite happens: the difference in artistic income between men and women within the same artist group increases when we look at full-time artists only.

In general, the artistic occupations with the lowest income have the highest share of income from artistically related and non-artistic work, cf. Table 8. However, this does not mean that these artists earn the highest income in an absolute sense. On average, the income from such work is on the low side of NOK 50,000, i.e. on the low side of NOK 100,000 for both types of work taken together. However, visual artists, artisans, fine art photographers and dance artists - all low-income occupations with regard to artistic income - have lower income from artistically related work and non-artistic work than the average for all artists. The poor pay-off from artistic work seems to influence the pay-off for other types of work as well.

Table 8. Share of income (%) from different income sources. Average overall income (NOK)N=2,283

 

Artistic categories

Average artistic income

%

Average artistically related income

%

Average non-artistic income

%

Average non-work income

%

Average overall income,

NOK

(100%)

Visual artist categories

Visual artists group

40

24

16

20

217.4

Artisans

50

14

16

20

219.4

Fine art photographers

31

7

27

35

202.4

Designers/illustrators

63

11

9

17

375.1

Interior architects

74

7

8

12

371.5

Writers

Fiction writers

60

9

11

19

359.7

 

Dramatists

67

10

12

12

337.6

 

Translators

56

7

13

24

418.6

 

Non-fiction writers

50

8

15

27

389.1

 

Art critics

40

18

27

15

362.9

Performers

Actors

78

6

6

10

339.5

 

Stage directors

65

20

6

9

384.9

 

Stage designers

73

12

8

8

330.8

 

Film artists

65

19

8

8

349.1

 

Dance artists

57

21

11

11

247.1

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

61

14

12

13

345.0

 

Classical composers

56

21

12

11

302.5

 

Composers of popular music

61

6

19

14

541.5

Rest category

Folk artists

65

6

15

14

305.4

 

Artists from other art forms

37

15

36

12

406.5

 

Total

59

14

15

12

323.8

*NOK 1000 = EUR 124.2 (2006 average).

Several artist groups with low artistic income also have low overall income. This applies particularly to the three groups in the visual field and the dance artists. The art critics, who also have low artistic income, are better off when we look at overall income. The income distribution is significantly more symmetrical when we look at total rather than artistic income alone. Once again, the three groups in the visual field stand out as having a rather skewed income distribution, i.e. a few earn much while the majority has a fairly low income. The median overall income for fine art photographers was NOK 130,000 in 2006 (not presented here), while the average income according to Table 8 was approximately NOK 200,000. Thus it seems quite economically risky to start a career as a fine art photographer.

Total or overall income also includes non-work income in addition to income from artistic, artistically related, and non-artistic work (occupational income), cf. Table 8. The most important sources of non-work income are retirement pension, social security income, unemployment benefits, and capital income. Retirement pension and social security income make up an average of 5.8 % of overall income in the artist population. Translators, fiction writers, non-fiction freelancers, and visual artists in particular obtain a relatively high proportion of their income from these sources, with the average amount for translators being about NOK 100,000. Most artists receive returns on capital assets of different kinds. In some cases this source of income is very high, making the average much higher than the median. However, our sources of information cannot tell whether these assets have been inherited or are invested income from previous artistic success.

Spouse’s income can also have a substantial influence on artists’ living conditions. We find that the average overall income of the spouse/partner is about NOK 360,000 in 2006. This is well above the average gross income for the population as a whole. Thus the 50-60 % of the artists who are married or registered partners have reduced their economic risk by means of civil status. The results do not indicate that artists in low-income artistic occupations are more frequently married to people with a high income. The exception is dancers, who tend to have low income and be married to/partners of persons with quite high income. However, barely 30 % of dancers are married or have a partner. For the average artist overall income is higher for the married than for the non-married, NOK 365 000 and 265 000, respectively. In addition we see that average overall spouse’s income is about the same as for married artists’. Thus there is some evidence that the economic situation for married artists is better than for the non-married ones.

8. The composition of artistic income

Central government grants are distributed to individual artists according to certain sets of quality criteria. The two most important grants schemes are the so-called ‘Working grants’ (WG), which are time limited to either three or five years, and ‘Guaranteed income for artists’ (GI), which is granted until retirement age at 67. In 2006 slightly more than 500 artists received GI, while about 400 received a WG. In addition, artists also receive other grants administered and distributed by their artists’ organisations. Finally, artists may also receive compensation for use of copyright material.

Table 9 shows that visual artists and artisans in particular are receiving more GI than other artist groups. Altogether these artist groups received approximately two-thirds of all GI allocations in 2006 and it is mainly artists between the ages of 51 and 70 who receive GI.

Table 9. Composition of artistic income, %. Row sum = 100. N=2272

 

Artistic categories

Market income

Guaranteed income for artists

Work grants

Other grants

Compensation for use of copyright material

Visual artist categories

Visual artists

50.5

19.3

12.1

16.9

1.2

 

Artisans

67.7

19.8

6.9

5.1

0.5

 

Fine art photographers

52.8

6.0

17.7

23.0

0.4

 

Designers/illustrators

98.7

0.0

0.1

1.0

0.2

 

Interior architects

100.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Writers

Fiction writers

65.7

7.0

11.8

12.0

3.5

 

Dramatists

75.4

3.8

6.9

11.1

2.8

 

Translators

83.3

0.3

2.8

12.8

0.7

 

Non-fiction writers

89.6

0.0

1.1

8.6

0.7

 

Art critics

92.3

4.3

1.0

2.4

0.0

Performers

Actors

96.7

1.1

1.6

0.3

0.3

 

Stage directors

88.8

4.1

4.4

2.6

0.0

 

Stage designers

85.7

2.0

2.2

3.8

6.2

 

Film artists

93.7

0.7

2.6

1.2

1.8

 

Dance artists

87.2

4.2

7.9

0.5

0.2

Musicians

Musicians, singers, and conductors

91.7

0.5

1.3

1.0

5.5

 

Classical composers

41.1

8.7

7.5

19.2

23.4

 

Composers of popular music

79.9

0.0

1.4

2.2

16.6

Rest category

Folk artists

91.9

3.3

3.5

0.0

1.3

 

Artists from other art forms

96.6

0.0

1.0

0.6

1.9

 

Total

82.6

4.7

4.0

4.8

3.9

Artists from the same categories that receive a large share of GI also benefit, relatively speaking, when it comes to distribution of the working grants. The categories that receive substantial contributions from the GGA (Government Grants for Artists) scheme are at the same time among the groups that have the lowest artistic income and the lowest overall income. The exception is the dance artists, a typical low-income group within the arts field. Despite this, they do not receive much when it comes to distribution of grants and guaranteed income. Nevertheless, it seems that the GGA grants contribute quite well to achieving their aims, since artists within art forms with low artistic income are the ones that are most likely to benefit from them. However, there should be a continuous evaluation of how well the grants contribute to fulfilling political goals in the artistic field.

It appears that the same artist groups that receive GI and grants from the GGA also receive the largest share of other grants (including miscellaneous grants from the GGA and collective grants administered and distributed by artists’ organisations). Such grants constitute a considerable share of the artistic income for visual artists and photographers. As expected, the composers (both classical and popular music composers) receive the largest share of individual compensation funding, both relatively and absolutely.

With the exception of the category of designers/interior architects, female artists have lower artistic income than their male colleagues, cf. Table 7. However, this does not mean that they receive higher grants from the GGA. It is only in the musical field that we find that women are favoured over men. This is mainly because a larger share of women receives grants but also, to some degree, because the amounts distributed to women are larger. It is fair to see this in relation to the very low share of female musicians. Despite the fact that there is no explicitly expressed political objective to prioritise female musicians, this seems implicitly to be the case since women are given higher priority. We have, however, not sufficient information to investigate this issue further.

Artists in the performing arts have a higher share of market income than, for instance, visual artists, while the latter have the largest share of income from central government and other grants, cf. Table 9. However, a high share of market income does not necessarily mean that artists in the performing arts are subject to a correspondingly low level of public subsidies. The theatres, the opera, and the orchestras, where many of these artists are employed, are heavily subsidised, mainly by the central government but also by local governments. On average 80-90% of total revenues in Norwegian performing arts institutions are subsidies, cf. Løyland and Ringstad (2007). Thus a large share of the performing arts artists are indirectly subsidised by receiving their wage income from these institutions.

9. Changes in income from 1993 to 2006

Artists have increased the share of artistic income from 1993 to 2006. However, the increase is not very large, only from 64 % to 67 %. The change has primarily come at the expense of income from artistically related work, which has been reduced from 20 % in 1993 to 16 % in 2006.

Table 10. Ranking of artist categories by artistic income, 1993 and 2006

Artistic groups

2006

(N=2272)

Average

1993

(N=2141)

Average

Ranked by median income, 2006

(N=2272)

Percentage change in artistic income, 1993-2006.

Actors

1

1

3

-8.2

Stage directors

2

2

2

-1.1

Composers of popular music

3

6

12

25.7

Interior architects

4

7

1

33.7

Fiction writers

5

11

9

29.8

Translators

6

10

5

54.0

Stage designers

7

3

4

-1.4

Film artists

8

8

6

43.5

Designers/illustrators

9

4

7

5.8

Dramatists

10

9

10

33.3

Musicians, singers, and conductors

11

5

8

2.2

Classical composers

12

12

11

20.7

Dance artists

13

13

13

11.2

Artisans

14

16

14

76.7

Visual artists

15

14

15

3.0

Fine art photographers

16

15

16

14.6

Artist average

     

18.7

In Table 10 we present a ranking of artistic income for 16 artistic groups. Number 1 has the highest income, while number 16 has the lowest. The ranking is basically the same in 2006 as in 1993. When we use income figures that are corrected for sample selection bias, it turns out that actors and stage directors are the top two – as they were in 1993. The bottom three in 2006 comprises visual artists, artisans, and fine art photographers – also as they were in 1993. However, the artisans, who were at the bottom in 1993, were the best of the three in 2006. There are some bigger changes between top and bottom. The non-fiction writers have advanced from eighth to fifth place, while the musicians have fallen from sixth to eleventh place. The latter could be because the artist population is considerably broader for musicians in 2006 compared with 1993.

On average, there is a weaker increase in artistic income in real terms than the average wage increase in the working population as a whole. While the real wage increased by approximately 40 % for the working population as a whole, the average increase in real artistic income for artists has been around 18 %.15 In other words, artists have become relatively poorer in this period. The artisans have experienced a significant increase in real income. However, since the income level for this artist group was very low in 1993, it does not take much to make a sizeable relative increase. This artist group is still at the bottom of the income hierarchy, along with visual artists and fine art photographers.

There is nothing to indicate that the strong increase for artisans is a result of increases in the governmental grants that artisans and visual artists benefit from in particular. In 1993 the guaranteed income (GI) was NOK 119,000, while it was approximately NOK 175,000 in 2006. This shows a nominal increase of nearly 50%, but the increase in real terms is only 13%. This is far below the actual wage growth in the working population as a whole (40%) within the same period. Our findings do not support the rather usual image of the Nordic artist pampered by public subsidies. The obvious explanation of the artisans’ increase in real income is that the arts market has experienced a distinct increase since 1993. This is not unlikely, since we were in a macroeconomic recession in 1993, while in 2006 we were at the top of the business cycle. At the same time we see that this progress does not apply to the visual artists to the same degree. This is partly because there has been a larger nominal increase in the number of visual artists since 1993 compared to artisans, cf. Table 1. Partly it is also reasonable to expect artisan to be more market oriented in their artistic production than many visual artist are.

Authors and writers have also experienced a favourable development in their artistic income, so favourable that the increase in absolute value is larger than the corresponding increase for the artisans. This is, of course, due to the income basis in 1993, which was better for writers than for artisans.

Despite the fact that actors come out highest when we compare artistic income among artist groups, they have experienced negative growth in artistic income in real terms since 1993. They fall behind compared both with the population as a whole and other artist groups. The main reason is probably the strong increase in the number of actors. Where this increase has not yet led to a larger fall in income, this could be because the market for actors has expanded significantly since 1993. This is especially apparent in the media field, with the establishment of commercial TV channels. However, the real income development for permanently employed actors with 12 years’ seniority has been good - between 50% and 60% from 1993 to 2006. This means that the income development in the same period has been correspondingly bad for those without permanent employment. Thus, since 1994, the labour market for actors seems to have been divided into outsiders and insiders, i.e. insiders who are strongly connected to the labour market as permanently or temporarily employed by government-subsidised institutions and outsiders who are more loosely connected, mainly as self-employed or freelance actors.

10. Differences in income

A symmetrical income distribution, where average income equals median income, does not imply that income is distributed evenly; it only implies that the number of persons earning less than average income equals the number of persons earning more than average. It is therefore interesting to study the difference in income between artists according to measurements made to measure income differences. We have used Lorenz curves to study the income differences, taking the overall income (gross income) and artistic income as a basis. The Lorenz curve is a graph showing the bottom X % of artists what Y % of the total income they earn.

Figure 1 illustrates the income distribution in the sample of Norwegian artists for two different income measures. First, we have calculated the distribution of artistic income and we find that artistic income is distributed very unevenly. The 50 % with the lowest artistic income earn only about 10 % of total artistic income. The 10 % which earn the highest income earn about 35 % of total income in the sample. When we calculate the distribution based on overall income, income is distributed slightly more evenly. The 50 % with the lowest overall income earn about 25 % of total overall income. It is likely that the main source for this compensating force is higher income from artistically related and non-artistic work among the artists with the lowest levels of artistic income.

Figure 1. Lorenz curves for artistic and overall income for a sample of Norwegian artists, N=2272

When we compare the income difference for both artistic income and overall income according to six different artist categories for all who responded to the survey, we also find the largest income differences for artistic income. In some artist categories we find that the 50 % of the group with the lowest income do not receive more than 5-10 % of the total income and the differences even out when we consider overall income.

We have also analysed the income differences for the entire population of artists who are members of artist organisations (16,020 members). We only had access to the overall income, and the results show that the 50 % of the population with the lowest income receive 25 % of the total income. It is hard to find a relevant basis for a comparison with the working population as a whole. The little evidence we find, however, indicates that the income differences are somewhat larger among artists than among the working population as a whole. The reason for this, we believe, is firstly that among artists, more often than among other occupational groups, there are superstars with very high incomes. At the other end of the income scale there are many aspiring artists who find it difficult to earn a decent reward for their artistic work. Secondly, many artists are self-employed, with irregularly low or even negative income in ‘production years’ and irregularly high income in ‘sales years’. When we only have access to income for one year, the magnitude of the income differences is bigger than if we could base the figures on ‘normal’ income years.

11. Stability and change – main conclusions and discussion

Our survey confirms many of the features of artists’ work and income conditions known from earlier surveys. Many of these turn out to be fairly stable over time. One stable feature is that recruitment to artistic occupations is much higher than the artistic markets can absorb (excess supply), and the excess supply is increasing in rich countries. Although many artists combine artistic and artistically related and/or non-artistic work, the average artist spends close to three-quarters of a normal person-year (1,700 hours) on artistic work. The artists’ artistic income is, however, considerably lower than the income for the employed population in general. The income also varies both among and within artist groups: the income imbalance between the few who earn a lot of money and the many who earn little remains. The hierarchy among artist categories with low and high average and median income is relatively stable. The visual artists and dancers are now, as earlier, at the bottom of the hierarchy, while actors and stage directors are still the artist groups with a relatively high income level. The low-income groups are dominated by women.

Arts policy grants will to some degree compensate for low artistic income from the market. This however, does not eliminate the low-income problem. Other income whether artistically related, non-artistic, or non-labour income, is far more important than public support in compensating for low artistic income. However, we find the low-income artist groups at the bottom of the income hierarchy when we look at the overall income as well. Thus, the level of income is better adjusted to a decent standard of living, but the skewed distribution of income remains.

So, what are the most important changes? One is that the share of women has increased in most artistic groups. It is particularly the low-income groups that recruit women. Regarding general changes in income, the average increase in real artistic income from 1993 to 2006 has been poorer than the wage development in the working population as a whole. However, this tendency varies among the artist groups, probably due to economic trends/better market opportunities for some of the groups. We have also shown that the real increase in guaranteed income has been only 13 % from 1993 to 2006, much lower than the real wage increase in the working population as a whole (40 %) within the same period.

The current structures and changes in the artistic markets indicate that general social processes and features of the development in the arts markets have a much larger impact on artists’ income development than specific arts policies for artists.

Despite the increase in the number of artists, the artist population does not constitute a large occupational group compared with many other occupational groups in Norway. From a cultural economics perspective, arts goods are not only private in consumption - they also represent public good advantages. So why can’t an affluent society like Norway provide scope for even more artists? It is not our primary task as researchers to give normative considerations to questions like this. It is, however, interesting to discuss the following question: is the government able, by providing more public support, to compensate for the lack of market income, so that anyone with sufficient expertise and interest can achieve a reasonable income and good working conditions? Would the low-income problem then disappear? Probably not. Abbing (2002) is most likely right when he argues that increased public support for artists would lead to an increased influx of new recruits to the artistic occupations, while the low-income problem would persist. Instead of raising the income level of all working artists to a reasonable level, there might be more, even poorer artists.

The effects of increased public support on artistic work depend, however, on the ability to control recruitment and on the design of the political measures in question: if the government manages to maintain relatively tight control of recruitment, it should be possible to raise the income level among aspiring and established artists in the professional arts field. To achieve this, it is necessary to limit the number of students domestically (which is already done), avoid generous support for studies abroad (which is also partly done), and maintain strict quality control at the entrance to the professional arts world in other respects (such as trials, auditions, publishers’ releases of works by debut writers, etc.).

However, basic features of the structure of the arts field give little support to policies that aim to eliminate or reduce the low-income problem. The excess supply seems to be a fairly common structural feature of the professional arts field, at least in western countries. Many young people are attracted to the artistic professions and it seems as if this attraction has increased in recent decades. They have a strong belief in their talent and are seeking an artistic education and career, although they are aware of the risks involved. The existence of a ‘reserve force’ may also be beneficial for the arts field and the society as a whole. Because it is difficult to predict who will succeed as an artist, the arts field needs a large pool of recruits in order to select the greatest talents. From a cultural policy point of view, it may be advantageous to maintain a large pool, which, in turn, increases the probabilities for talented artists to break through. The cost, however, is that most artists have to live with rather poor work and income conditions.

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1This paper is based on a study substantially documented in Heian, Løyland, and Mangset (2008). 
2 The total number of memberships was 22,218. However, 2,339 held more than one membership. They were therefore excluded. In addition, 3,859 memberships were excluded due to missing information on the artists’ identity.
3In addition, to capturing unorganised artists (meaning artists who are not members of one of the 33 artist organisations), we have used two different sources. These sources are: 1) Unorganised artists who have received grants from the GGA. 2) Individuals registered as self-employed artists in the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises (CRE), Statistics Norway. The GGA sample includes all 448 non-organized artists who have received grants from the GGA, and from the CRE we have drawn a random sample of 1,457 artists. Altogether, the three samples give a gross sample of 9,497 artists. With the exception of parts of section 4, the artists from these two samples of non-organised artists are omitted in the following.
4 For the other samples the response rate was even lower: just over 25 % of the GGA recipients and just under 20 % of the Central register of establishments (CRE) sample responded.
5 NOK 1 000 = EUR 112.2 (2006 average).
6 182 of these were students, while 403 were not active due to other circumstances. The largest share of non-active artists comprised members of the Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists, GramArt (the Norwegian Association of Recording Artists), Grafill (the Norwegian Organisation for Visual Communication), the Norwegian Film Critics’ Association, the Norwegian Dancers’ Association, the Norwegian Organisation of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers, and the Sami Arts Council. 53 % of the non-active artists are women. Both the average age and median age for those who are not artistically active is 49 years, independent of which organisation they belong to.
7 In the tables in the following sections an average of all artistic groups is presented in addition to averages for each artistic group. These are weighted by each artistic group’s share of the population, not their share of the sample.
8 One interesting finding that indirectly relates to gender issues is that about 300 of 2,400 artists answered that they became parents during the period between 2002 and 2006. The majority of these are men, and the share of female artists between 25 and 35 years who have children is considerably lower than among women in the same age group in the population as a whole, cf. similar findings in other studies, e.g. among French actors (Menger 1997). This implies that economic uncertainty makes many female artists avoid or postpone having children. However, since from 1 July 2008 the self-employed in general have the same rights to benefits as the employed when they have children, this could well result in more female artists having children at a younger age.
9 Artistic education at the university college level.
10 Theoretical education means education in languages, literature, art history, theater studies, music studies, etc. at university or university college level.
11 Three institutions in Norway are offering education in writing at university or university college level (Telemark University College (Bø), Skrivekunstakademiet (Bergen) and Writing Studies (University of Tromsø).
12 A normal work year in an ‘ordinary’ work life in Norway is about 1,700 hours. There are reasons to be cautious in using the hours worked as reported by the artists themselves. There are many potential sources of measurement error and there might also be a positive bias due to artists’ incentives to over-report hours worked. For comparisons over time this is not a problem because corresponding sources of error and bias may apply to the 1994 survey as well.
13 Table not presented in this article, cf. Heian et al. (2008), Table 5-6.
14 Table not presented in this article, cf. Heian et al. (2008), Table 5-8.
15 The development in pensionable income (wage income, income from self employment, sickness absence and unemployment benefits) in real terms for artists in the same period corresponds fairly well to the development in artistic income (slightly above 20 %). Out of 15 artist categories, only film artists are subject to a development in real pensionable income corresponding to the working population as a whole.

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