News

UK Arts Workers Underpaid, but Satisfied

by Jillian Steinhauer on February 4, 2014

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

An organization called ArtsHub has conducted an arts jobs survey in the UK, and the results make clear just how difficult and unsustainable it is to work in the arts. The survey is based on the responses of only 448 participants, admittedly not a huge sample. But even with a limited pool of respondents, the trends are clear: arts workers are overeducated, underpaid, and have little to no job security.

To break that down: ArtsHub found that 90% of workers surveyed had an undergraduate or graduate degree, versus 27% of the larger UK population. Yet the two largest salary brackets — with 31% and 30% of respondents, respectively — were £20,000–29,999 (~$32,590–48,883) and £10,000–19,999. The runner-up to those was £0–9,999, the range in which 25% of respondents earn. Half of those surveyed said they didn’t expect their salaries to rise at all this year, as compared with last year, and a little less than half (43%) said they didn’t expect their salaries to rise next year either.

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

ArtsHub also found that two-thirds of the people surveyed have been in their current job for three years or fewer, while half of them have had more than four jobs in the last 10 years. The average tenure in the arts industry, according to the report, is 7.27 years — not even a decade. Not surprisingly, more than half of arts workers (52%) are between 25 and 34 years old (versus 13.6% in the general population).

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

(screenshot via artshub.co.uk)

There is a bit of silver lining in the survey: UK arts workers are overwhelmingly (81%) driven by their passion for the arts, and roughly half of them (52%) have good job satisfaction. Still, the positivity does little to mitigate stats that indicate you can pretty much only succeed in working in the arts when you’re young and job stability and income matter less. These are realities many of us already know, but that doesn’t make it any less depressing to see them spelled out so clearly.

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