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Los Angeles Is An Artist's Haven, Census Says

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Rise by Tom Eatherton (Photo by brandon shigeta via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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It's not a surprise to anyone who knows the city, but a survey shows that Los Angeles is just brimming with artists.

There are 96,150 Angelenos who work in the arts, and they make up about 4.86 percent of our workforce, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts (h/t Washington Post). That means artists make up a higher percentage of our workforce than in any other city including New York, which has 140,915 artists, though they make up only 3.4 percent of its workforce. It sounds like the Western U.S. is actually a haven for artists: San Francisco is just behind at 4.3 percent, and Santa Fe is next at 4 percent.

The study based on U.S. Census data found that there were altogether 2,081,735 artists in the country, which make up 1.35 percent of the total workforce. It included a broad list of people who make the majority of their income in the arts: announcers, architects, fine artists, art directors, animators, dancers, choreographers, designers, musicians, photographers, producers, directors, writers, authors and "other entertainers."

Naturally, Los Angeles has more actors (12,075), producers and directors (18,865) and "other entertainers" than anyone other city (2,855). But the biggest category of workers employed in the arts here (and just about everywhere else) is actually designers (23,190). We hold our own in the number of writers and authors (10,355) and musicians (8,435), too.

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The image of the "starving artist" isn't exactly right. Sure, about 33 percent of artists in California make less than $15,000 from their art (and keep in mind that the NEA considered people artists based on how they spent the majority of their hours—so this doesn't necessarily include people with a "day job"). But in California many artists are making bank: 7.7 percent of artists are making over $125,000 and 4.3 percent are making between $100K and $125K. Nice work if you can get it—and it turns out many of us have.