BOULDER – With Boulder’s strong arts community, it stands to reason there are a lot of artists who choose to live here, nestled next to the Flatirons.
And it’s true, according to a recent report by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Compared to the rest of the nation, there are a lot of artists among us.
In fact, Boulder ranks third for the number of artists per capita among 367 metropolitan areas across the nation, trailing only Santa Fe and Los Angeles, according to the NEA report, Creativity Connects. Artists in some neighboring Colorado metros make up just over 1.5 percent or less of the total civilian labor force, with Denver-Aurora-Broomfield at 1.6 percent and Fort Collins-Loveland at 1.5 percent.
The report focuses on the needs of artists in a world of accelerating change, examining pertinent issues for artists in today’s world including:
– Funding and training
– The gig economy
– Student debt
– Growth of cross-disciplinary work
Along with other worker segments, the report shows artists face challenges presented by economic conditions.
“This exhaustive study of artists in the workforce aligns with findings in Boulder’s Community Cultural Plan,” says Matt Chasansky, manager of the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture.
Currently, the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture is implementing programs to advance Boulder’s arts as a part of Boulder’s Community Cultural Plan, including cultural grants, public art, initiatives for artists, the creative economy, and research.
Adopted in November 2015 by the Boulder City Council, a community priority is to “create a supportive environment for artists and creative professionals while fostering innovative thinking and leadership among them.”
As a part of Boulder’s plan, there are a number of programs for artists. The full list can be found at: bouldercolorado.gov/newsroom/oct-3-2016-new-national-endowment-of-the-arts-report-ranks-boulder-as-third-in-country-for-artists-per-capita-behind-santa-fe-and-los-angeles.
Other findings of the NEA’s Creativity Connects report are:
– Across America, the population of artists is growing and diversifying, and norms about who is considered an artist are changing.
– Substantial numbers of artists now work in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways.
– Many artists are finding work as artists in non-arts contexts.
– Artists are pursuing new opportunities to work entrepreneurially.
– Technology is altering the context and economics of artists’ work.
– Artists share challenging economic conditions with other segments of the workforce.
– Structural inequities in the artists’ ecosystem mirror inequities in society more broadly.
– Training is not keeping pace with artists’ evolving needs and opportunities.
– Artist fellowships, grants, and awards are not responding to new ways of working.
The Creativity Connects report was initiated as a part of the NEA’s 50th anniversary and produced in collaboration with the Center for Cultural Innovation. The report presents an updated picture of the world in which artists operate and offers suggestions for addressing the identified challenges to artists’ success.
The CCI research team and NEA staff conducted 65 in-depth interviews, convened 10 roundtables across the country, reviewed more than 300 documents, gathered more than 30 field experts to review the initial findings, and commissioned 18 online essays written by leaders in the field and available at Creativz.us and on the NEA website.
For the full Creativity Connects report and Metro Statistical Data, visit www.arts.gov/50th/creativity-connects/report and www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ADP1_artists_by_MSA_3.pdf
For more information about the Boulder Community Cultural Plan, visit boulderarts.org/about-us/community-cultural-plan.
By Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder