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Why are artists getting poorer?

About the reproduction of low income among artists


In the period 2006 to 2013, Norway has experienced a substantial increase in public subsidies to culture as well as a substantial increase in real income growth in general. This paper discusses different explanations for why Norwegian artists? real artistic income has declined between 2006 and 2013, despite the positive economic development in Norway. We have based the study in particular on two comparable studies on the income and work situation of Norwegian artists in 2006 and 2013. We analyse and discuss why the artists? real artistic income has declined during this period. We do not find a single, general, explanation for this, but the income decline does not primarily seem to be due to either an increasing number of artists or a decline in public scholarships to artists.

Our two most striking findings are: (i) A substantial decline in most artists? artistic working hours and a corresponding increase in artistically related and non-artistic working hours, and (ii) a tendency for artists to derive less of their income from the market, together with an apparent decrease in cultural consumption (spending) among Norwegians. These two factors especially the latter seem to be the major factors behind the decline in artistic income.