NAVA welcomes Creative Australia's economic study of professional artists

Media Release

The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) enthusiastically welcomes the release of research report, Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia. Commissioned by Creative Australia, this report marks the seventh installation in a forty-year longitudinal study led by Macquarie University's esteemed Professor David Throsby AO.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of professional contemporary artists, focusing on key areas such as career progression, working patterns, incomes and expenditure, employment and financial security, education, and demographics.

NAVA Executive Director Penelope Benton said, ‘A concerning trend highlighted in the research is that artists' incomes have remained low and relatively stagnant over the years, while the expenses related to producing their work have increased dramatically. Additionally, there is an increasing trend towards freelance and casual work among artists, exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis.’

‘Among the report's key findings is that a significant portion of visual artists and craft practitioners are among the lowest-paid, with over a quarter earning less than $10,000 annually from their creative work. Further, the report highlights persistent sector challenges, including gender inequality in income and career opportunities, and concerns regarding artists' rights and control over their work.’

‘Throsby and Petetskaya's longitudinal research serves as a crucial resource for informing evidence-based policies and initiatives. By centering the experiences and economic realities of artists, this impactful work provides a foundation for meaningful improvements to the fundamental conditions of arts work and practice.’

‘Artists as Workers identifies a critical mass of policy opportunities that demand urgent government response at all levels. From addressing gender equity to issues of copyright infringement and intellectual property protection, the report emphasises the pressing need for action to improve the working conditions of artists across Australia.’ 

‘The findings back NAVA’s Recognise Art as Work campaign to legislate minimum pay and conditions for the visual arts. NAVA continues to champion the rights and welfare of artists, calling for concrete measures to address the challenges highlighted in the report.’

‘NAVA welcomes the release of the Artists as Workers report. This comprehensive study not only reaffirms our ongoing advocacy work but also highlights the urgent need for policy and investment interventions to support the livelihoods of artists nationwide.’

Media enquiries

Leya Reid

Image credit

Artist Emily Ferretti in studio at Gertrude Contemporary. Photograph by Jacob Walker.

ID: Photo of Emily Feretti working on a painting mounted on a studio wall. She has dark, shoulder-length hair, is wearing a navy polka dot jumper and jeans and has her back to the camera. On the tables beside Emily are tubes of paint and scrap fabrics.

NAVA welcomes Creative Australia's economic study of professional artists