Arts Impact Initiative Releases New Issue Brief on the Status of the Artist Labor Force in Illinois

Press Release

Press Contact: Mariana Seda
Phone: 217-300-8077


Urbana, Illinois–The Arts Impact Initiative, a research program through the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, released a new report on the status of the artist labor force in Illinois in relation to the national landscape.

This report, in the form of an issue brief, provides insights on the size, density, composition, and earnings of the artist labor force. The research team used new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which covers demographic information for communities throughout the United States, from 2016 to 2020. The report looks at the artist labor force in Illinois within the context of the U.S.

The issue brief is part of a series of briefs investigating the artist labor force from various angles. Each report dives into a specific focus area surrounding the lives, livelihoods, and impact of creative workers to better understand the roles of art and artists in community development and social well-being.

Jennifer Novak-Leonard, Research Director of the Arts Impact Initiative and co-author of the report says: “We too often lack a sufficient evidence base to inform and guide policies that affect artists. This series of issue briefs provides policymakers and other stakeholders with timely information to shape investments in Illinois’ creative workforce and in making it more equitable.”

The Arts Impact Initiative works with local, regional, and national partners to collect the research data and develop the briefs. Arts Alliance Illinois, a partner of the initiative, serves as an advocacy agency for creative industries and workers in Illinois.

Claire Rice, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois, states: “As we continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic on our arts and culture workers, this important research will help us to advocate for sustainable solutions that will help individual creatives not only survive, but thrive here in Illinois, especially with the more specific geographic, racial and ethnic, and other demographic data available. We look forward to our future research collaborations; this is a unique and exciting connection between a major research university and a statewide arts advocacy organization.”

Following the release of the issue brief, a series of events in the form of panel discussions will be held in Chicago and at the U of I campus this coming Fall 2022.

About the Arts Impact Initiative: The Arts Impact Initiative is a pilot program that builds on the historic record of research, creation, and service across the College of Fine and Applied Arts’ academic and engagement units dedicated to the study of the visual and performing arts, design, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. Working with regional and national partners like Arts Alliance Illinois and the Strategic National Arts Alumni Program (SNAAP), the program focuses on translating data and research about art and artists into actionable strategies for enhancing how people work and live locally, regionally, and nationally.

View and/or download the full issue brief.

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