Doug Noonan, Institute Director of Research, awarded NEA grant to study artist employment

May 11, 2015

Doug Noonan, director of research at the IU Public Policy Institute

Doug Noonan, director of research at the IU Public Policy Institute

With a newly announced grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Indiana University researchers will examine key economic issues facing artists

School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty members Doug Noonan and Joanna Woronkowicz will use data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and data from crowdfunding websites including Kickstarter and Indiegogo to study these questions:

  • What was the effect of the Great Recession on the employment of artists and how have they fared during the recovery?
  • How do crowdfunding campaigns for arts projects differ in their results from similar campaigns for technology and other non-arts projects?

The $15,000 research grant is one of only 19 research projects nationwide funded by the NEA through its Research: Art Works program.

“We want to better understand the role of artists in creating economic value,” Noonan said. “We want to develop data that shows the impact of artists on the economic fabric of society.”

Noonan is a professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He is also research director for the IU Public Policy Institute. Woronkowicz is an assistant professor at SPEA at IU Bloomington.

Tracking employment and salary for artists is difficult because of the nature of their work. They have flexibility in schedules, often hold multiple jobs and can be footloose in regard to where they live and work.

“We know a good deal about artists from data taken at a particular moment in time, but this research goes in a new direction,” Woronkowicz said. “By studying how artists work and move across years and during a sustained and challenging economic period, we can get a much broader understanding of how they survive and how, as a society, we can help them thrive.”

Noonan and Woronkowicz will analyze data from the 2003-14 Current Population Surveys as well as data from Kickstarter and Indiegogo from 2009 to 2014.

“We hope to create data sets that other researchers can use to further define the economic contributions of artists,” Noonan said. “They enrich our lives in so many ways, but too little is known about the many ways artists earn a living.”

Indiana University researchers awarded grant to study employment behavior of artists