One Year Later: The Arts Industry After 9/11

Volume CII, No. 11November, 2002

How did the events of Sept. 11, 2001, affect artists this past year? That was the question Local 802 helped to answer in part when it took part in a survey of 12,000 artists of all kinds. The survey asked about artists’ income, current health insurance status, secondary employment and their interest in job training and opportunities.

The survey found that the average loss in individual income for artists was over 46 percent. No other industry in New York has reported a Sept. 11-related income loss this great.

Prior to 9/11, only one in five artists reported income losses as a result of the weak economy. After 9/11, the survey found:

  • 22 percent of respondents became unemployed.
  • 66 percent lost sales or income.
  • 69 percent lost business opportunities or independent contractor jobs.

Four out of five artists who responded are still suffering income loss. Almost 70 percent of the respondents who reported income loss indicated that it was in the arts and entertainment sector. Reported loss of income from other sectors – as in a second job or day job – was negligible in comparison.

The majority of this employment loss occurred in September and October of 2001.

In addition to loss of income, over half of the artists surveyed have spent down their savings by 40 percent, with some having to take money out of their retirement savings. Three out of five report that their debts have increased significantly in the wake of 9/11. Respondents have relied on these and other sources of income to meet expenses:

  • Credit cards: 51 percent
  • Loans (from friends/family, banks and others): 34 percent
  • Disaster and regular post 9/11 unemployment insurance: 18 percent
  • Liquidated stocks/bonds/other investments or money market accounts and CD balances: 16 percent

The survey concludes that recovery will be slow. Almost one year after Sept. 11, only one-quarter of surveyed artists report that work or income sources lost because of 9/11 have returned or that the market for their sales/work has rebounded. Four out of five respondents rated their prospects of finding work as “fair” or “poor.”

A significant percentage of artists are in danger of losing their work and/or living spaces. Over 70 percent of surveyed artists work at home. Thirteen percent of surveyed artists who rent their homes face eviction (or have been evicted) and 16 percent who rent their workspaces face eviction (or have been evicted).

Over one-third of all respondents reported Sept. 11-related health problems and over half of this group said that these problems had affected their ability to work. One-quarter of respondents did not have health insurance prior to Sept. 11. That increased to 36 percent after Sept. 11.

Over one-third of the respondents wanted to be contacted about job retraining and placement. The most interest, by far, was in training and certification for teaching positions. Thirty percent of all respondents (217) wanted more information in this area.

The 705 artists who responded are actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists, stage designers, technicians and writers.

The union collaborated with the Consortium for Worker Education, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Downtown NYC! and the Actors’ Fund of America in the survey. The Fiscal Policy Institute created a summary analysis of the survey. This article is excerpted from the FPI summary. o

For more information about the survey or its follow-up, contact Heather Beaudoin at ext. 176.