Full-time artists in rapid decline

Artist painting mural. | Newsreel
Fewer than 10 percent of artists work on their craft full-time. | Photo: Jandrik (iStock)

Less than one in 10 Australian artists work full-time in their field, a drop of more than 60 percent in under a decade.

A recent Creative Australia-commissioned report found nine percent of artists worked full-time solely on their creative practice, down from 23 percent in 2016.

The Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia report also found an artists’ average total income, from all sources, was $54,500, 26 percent below the workforce average.

The report, the latest in a study carried out over the past four decades by researchers at Macquarie University, presented new insights and longer-term trends on the lives and working conditions of artists.

It found women now outnumbered men roughly two to one across almost all artistic occupations, however, women artists earned 19 percent less than their male counterparts, a gap greater than the general workforce’s gender pay gap of 12 percent in 2023.

Creative Australia CEO Adrian Collette said the report found the number of artists with disabilities had doubled since 2016 and the number of artists who were multilingual and based in regional areas was also increasing.

Mr Collette said the report found Australians valued the contributions of artists, but the challenges artists faced in earning a living had never been greater.

The report also found artists engaged in “lifelong learning”, with 89 percent currently engaged in some form of training, up from 72 percent in 2016 and more than half of all artists (52 percent) worked and applied their skills outside the arts.

It found 93 percent of artists used technology in the process of creating art, and 65 percent believed future technological changes would open new creative and income-earning opportunities for artists.

At the same time, there are growing challenges for copyright holders to exert control over their work in an increasingly digitised environment., the report found.

Read the full report.