Best Places to Live If You Want To Work In The Arts
Written by Catherine Radbill on Nov. 22nd 2017
If you want to work in the arts, you definitely want to take a look at the NEA's recent report on the best places to live. "The Arts and Economic Growth," released by the NEA and the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis in April 2017, breaks down cultural employment and compensation by state. 

For years I encouraged my music business students to be geographically flexible after they graduated. It was a tough sell, asking 20-somethings to leave places like Boulder, Colorado or New York City, the two cities where I was a university professor. Turns out I may have been wrong about one of them!

The report shows that forty percent of US workers in the arts and cultural fields are working in these five states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. New York scores high thanks to its museums, performing arts companies, and architecture and design firms. California rates well due to the concentration of the film industry.

Combined, these states employ a total of 1.9 million cultural workers that bring home $167 billion in compensation annually. 

Here is the breakdown:
California: 674,865 arts-related workers, $73.8 billion in compensation
New York: 459,942 arts-related workers, $45.5 billion in compensation
Texas: 350,643 arts-related workers, $21.2 billion in compensation
Florida: 236,557 arts-related workers, $14 billion in compensation
Illinois: 202,397 arts-related workers, $13 billion in compensation
So how did the other 44 states fare in the report? Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Kansas experienced the largest declines in arts and cultural employment between 2008 and 2014. Wyoming ranked well based on the substantial “arts-related government industry” there, which includes state parks. And Louisiana did well, relative to other states, in the film industry. 

The report also serves as a reminder of the arts’ contribution to the US economy. The arts and culture sector contributed $729.6 billion to the US economy in 2014, or 4.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product. That figure grew by an impressive 35.1 percent between 1998 and 2014.

See how your state stacks up on the report’s interactive dashboard.

Catherine Radbill

I help nonprofit visionaries deliver their organization’s mission without burning out or wasting time and energy. If you want to lead a vital, efficient nonprofit, I can help you transform your work through energized community partnerships, a strong Board, and members and donors who are raving fans. 

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