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“Richard’s photography class notes” by Terry Madeley

March and April were busy months for us at Createquity. While we had ambitious research agendas for investigating both the history of the arts ecosystem and the labor market for artists and creative entrepreneurs, we found that it took some tweaking to refine our hypotheses and research questions so that we could find the types of sources and information that would make for impactful feature articles that add value to the current literature.

History of the Arts Ecosystem: Expanding definition of the arts

We have wrapped up our reading on this topic and are beginning work on an article.

After our initial research and some productive conversations with some experienced researchers in this area, we re-focused our work on this topic. The general framework for our history investigations has been to examine how change is made within the sector through the history of some major shifts. For this particular article we set out to explore the expanding definition of “the arts” within the mainstream cultural establishment since the middle of the 20th century.

We found that this change was inextricably related to many of the issues around cultural equity and diversity currently being discussed in the sector, and that exactly what had changed and to what extent was not as clear as in our previous investigation on the growth of the modern nonprofit arts sector. Accordingly, we’ve shifted to working on an article that attempts to make sense of the divergent visions of success for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts sector in the United States by identifying the assumptions and values underlying those visions. The article will incorporate an attempt to reconcile these visions of success with Createquity’s own definition of a healthy arts ecosystem, and define areas for future empirical investigation.

Artists’ Labor Markets and Entrepreneurship

After completing our initial review of the literature and sharing our internal report, the responses to our research questions separated into three distinct areas. Because of this, we are currently planning three separate, shorter articles to be published on the topic of economically disadvantaged populations making their livings as artists.

We are currently editing the first article, which will focus on higher education and the arts and the challenges that economically disadvantaged people face when pursuing arts training. From there, we will move on to a discussion of artists’ labor markets and the risks that artists face in their careers. Our last article on this topic will consider policy alternatives that governments around the world have attempted to mitigate some of the risks that artists face in their careers, along with how those policies have affected artists’ work.