Starving Artists and the Recession Blues

Perhaps because artists are generally assumed to be starving already, creative professionals are an easy group to overlook in discussions of the ongoing recession. Regardless, the economy has had an impact on their livelihood. The following links should give some idea of how severe the impact has been, and the forms it’s been taking.

Pianist David Hahn, blogging at, speculates that musicians are jumping onto cruise ships, sailing the high seas in search of stable wages.

Hahn also notes that transportation costs have put a cramp on tours, which, as one would imagine, is a problem even beyond the music business. The high cost of travel has made it necessary for Hollywood stars to fly coach. God bless ’em for taking one for the team.

Of photographers, or at least wedding photographers, Ed Wolf of the SnapStory Photo blog observes that they are >feeling the pinch both in the number of clients they see and the prices they can charge.

Garrison Keillor, meanwhile, has recently contended that poets can contribute to the economy by removing themselves from it, which is to say that young people should pursue their passions regardless of profit.

Says Keillor: “They [poets] can take themselves out of the economy by writing poetry. Poetry has no economic impact whatsoever – very little money ever changes hands. And so you become a neutral force in the economy…because there’s unemployment among lawyers for Heaven’s sake, there’s unemployment among MBA’s, so why go the practical route?”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has assembled a comprehensive report on the outlook for artists working in visual and multimedia in the near future. The short version is that employment for such artists is expected to keep pace with growth in the rest of the jobs market– 12% growth through 2018, to be precise– and that competition is expected to be fierce due to an abundance of qualified candidates. Which any freelancer could probably have told you already.

And speaking of government, once upon a time wide-eyed art aficionados believed that President Obama would prove a great ally to the arts, or at least a decent friend. But so far, art journalist Tyler Green laments, that hasn’t been the case. And given the fraught political and economic climate, one wonders if a turn-around is likely.