Occupational Wellbeing of ArtistsArts and Culture Barometer 2022. Overview and summary
The purpose of the Arts and Culture Barometer is to annually monitor and highlight the views of artists regarding current issues and phenomena. The theme of the 2022 barometer is the occupational wellbeing of artists, and it examines the work of artists as part of the broader research and discussion on working life. The results of the barometer are based on a questionnaire to which more than 1 300 artists responded in autumn 2022. The report presents the views of artists regarding their occupational wellbeing, factors that support and undermine occupational wellbeing, and occupational health services and other services that support occupational wellbeing. The Arts and Culture Barometer is conducted by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) together with the Center for Cultural Policy Research (Cupore).
For overview and summary, scroll down and click “More”. You can also download the whole report (in Finnish) as a PDF-file.
Ruusuvirta, Minna, Lahtinen, Emmi, Rensujeff, Kaija & Leppänen, Aino (2023). Taiteen ja kulttuurin barometri 2022. Taiteilijoiden työhyvinvointi. Cuporen verkkojulkaisuja 72. Kulttuuripolitiikan tutkimuskeskus Cupore.
ISBN 978-952-7200-75-9; ISSN 1796-9263
The theme of the Arts and Culture Barometer 2022 is the occupational wellbeing of artists. A record number of artists, 1 319, responded to the questionnaire in autumn 2022. The report examines the views of artists regarding their occupational wellbeing, the factors influencing it and the services that support occupational wellbeing and the need for them. Artist associations were surveyed about the occupational wellbeing services provided to their members and their own views on how to promote the occupational wellbeing of artists. The Arts and Culture Barometer is conducted by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) together with the Center for Cultural Policy Research (Cupore).
Artists experience strongly the meaningfulness and appeal of their work. At the same time, however, they often experience stress about work-related matters, and more than half of the respondents were concerned about their ability to cope mentally. In addition, 40 percent of the artists – and almost half of those in the performing artists – reported having considered changing professions or having already changed professions in the past year. Young artists experience stress and concern about their ability to cope mentally more often than other age groups. More than half the artists under the age of 35 (53%) had considered changing or had already changed professions in the past year.
Regular and sufficient income would best support the occupational wellbeing of artists. Unfortunately, this is not realised for most artists. In order to secure their livelihoods, artists often have to perform work that is not related to artistic work or to their professional skills as an artist. This can leave little time for their artistic work, which undermines their occupational wellbeing. Constant competition over grants, as well as a lack of feedback and social appreciation, cause repeated stress to artists. Conversely, occupational wellbeing is supported especially by the ability to influence the goals, contents and schedules of their own work, as well as successful collaboration and contacts with other artists.
The lack of occupational health services leaves many artists alone with work-related health problems. Working when sick is also common. Most artists do not have the opportunity to take sufficient holiday leave from their work, and a third of artists feel they are unable to recover sufficiently from the stress caused by their work. The average score for occupational wellbeing among all respondents was 6.5 (on a scale of 1–10). Artists who gave the lowest score for their occupational wellbeing also had the weakest experience of inclusion. The experience of inclusion was measured using the Inclusion Indicator developed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The purpose of the Arts and Culture Barometer is to annually monitor and highlight the views of artists regarding current issues and phenomena. The theme of the 2022 barometer is the occupational wellbeing of artists, and it examines the work of artists as part of the broader research and discussion on working life. The results of the barometer are based on a questionnaire to which more than 1 300 artists responded in autumn 2022. The report presents the views of artists regarding their occupational wellbeing, factors that support and undermine occupational wellbeing, and occupational health services and other services that support occupational wellbeing.
At the beginning of the summary, guidelines for promoting the occupational wellbeing of artists are presented, summarised under four points. The following three subsections summarise the key results of the barometer.
1. Regular income and equal social security would solve many issues related to the occupational wellbeing or artists
Stability and predictability create occupational wellbeing and the conditions for making art. The most important factors from the perspective of the occupational wellbeing of artists appear to be more stable and fair earnings in terms of the work done and the opportunity to focus on making art. Uncertainty about their livelihood and future burdens artists and undermines how they experience the meaningfulness of their work.
2. Promoting the availability and use of services that maintain and support occupational wellbeing would support the occupational wellbeing of artists and help prevent problems
Few artists are covered by occupational health services. The artist community has a clear need for services related to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Currently, artists use these services little in relation to their needs. This is partly a question of the availability of services, but often the use of services is prevented by their high price in relation to the income level of artists. Artists also lack information about services that support their occupational wellbeing and the possibilities of obtaining them
3. Opportunities for professional development, peer support and advisory services are key elements in the occupational wellbeing of artists
The experience of confidence in one’s own professional skills and expertise promotes occupational wellbeing. Artists call for information, advice and support for a wide range of issues related to their work. Working alone and managing a wide range of tasks unrelated to their artistic skills create stress for many artists. Interacting with others and peer support from other artists are important for artists and promote their occupational wellbeing.
4. Information and monitoring create the basis for promoting the occupational wellbeing of artists
Regular monitoring and producing information are important tools for developing the occupational wellbeing of artists. Information is needed both on broad issues related to occupational wellbeing that affect the artist community, as well as on more specific issues focusing on different fields of the arts and groups. This information also needs to be shared among artists, funding bodies and decision-makers.
Experiences of occupational wellbeing vary among different groups
The average score for occupational wellbeing among artists in 2022 was 6.5 (on a scale of 1–10). The score among artists working in the fields of literature and music (6.7) was higher than average, while the scores among representatives of multidisciplinary art and diversity (6.0) and representatives of the visual arts (6.1) were lower than average. The higher their earnings, the better artists rated their occupational wellbeing. Although experiences of occupational wellbeing and how they rate their occupational wellbeing vary among artists in different groups, concern over occupational wellbeing and coping is generally shared among artists working in different fields of the arts.
According to the results, experiences of occupational wellbeing improve with age. Young artists rate their occupational wellbeing significantly lower, and they also reported the highest levels of work-related stress and concern about their ability to cope mentally. Although ageing can also pose many challenges, retirement for many artists, for example, presents an opportunity to focus full-time on making art with the security of regular income from a pension.
The experience of inclusion was measured using the Inclusion Indicator developed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
According to the results, the experience of inclusion is weaker among artists (average 71.0) than for the population as a whole (average 75.2) as measured in the FinSote 2019 survey. In terms of the factors affecting inclusion, the results are similar to those of previous surveys: weaker occupational wellbeing and earnings, as well as experiences related to inappropriate treatment or discrimination, are connected to a weaker sense of inclusion. In addition, the experience of inclusion among artists was affected by age and labour market status, the full-time or part-time nature of their work, and whether they belonged to a work community. Consequently, the earnings and occupational wellbeing of artists, as well as the unique characteristics of performing artistic work, could have far-reaching impacts on discrimination and social inequality, which supporting inclusion aims to prevent (Raivio & Karjalainen, 2013; THL, 2022).
The results of the barometer highlighted several groups that should be studied in more depth. For example, freelance and self-employed artists, as well as young artists, emerged as groups who would require further investigation in terms of issues related to their occupational wellbeing. Among smaller groups, the situation among non-binary artists and those belonging to linguistic minorities (Swedish speakers, Sami speakers and those whose native language is other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami) also calls for further studies.
Meaningfulness of work and freedom more important for artists in terms of occupational wellbeing, while uncertainty and a lack of support are a burden
Artists experience strongly the meaningfulness of their work, and they feel that their art has something to give also to others. They are enthusiastic about their work and inspired by it, and pride in their work is common among those who responded to the survey. However, the poor appreciation and status of art and artists in society, as well as uncertainty about their livelihood, make many artists doubt their own abilities and undermine how they experience the meaningfulness of their work.
The freedom to influence the goals and contents of their own work, as well as the freedom to choose their own working hours, are important factors that generally support the occupational wellbeing of artists. Other important factors in terms of supporting the occupational wellbeing of artists include appealing tasks, the diversity of their work, and the chance to learn new things and develop in their work. The ability to make their own decisions and their independence enable artists to perform work that corresponds to their own values. Many artists work independently, as a result of which they often lack a working community, as well as the structures and benefits of an employment relationship. When managing their own work, artists have to be responsible for everything themselves, which causes challenges in terms of scheduling and organising work, among other things. The need for different types of work guidance and supervised activities aimed at professional development was raised in several of the responses.
Uncertainty regarding income and low levels of income are among the biggest factors undermining the occupational wellbeing of artists. A lack of income limits their outlook and ability to forecast the future, while also reducing the chances of taking sick leave if necessary or using services that promote occupational wellbeing. This situation causes artists to grab any work opportunities they can and apply repeatedly for grants, which often leads to work piling up and overlapping tasks. When looking for work and funding, artists do a lot of unpaid work that they have to finance by working in other fields, for example.
Filling in grant applications takes a lot of effort, and many artists feel it takes away time from working on their art. Competing with friends and colleagues for funding also causes mental stress for many artists. The difficulty and uncertainty of obtaining grants causes stress and frustration and leads artists to question their own abilities. When applying for grants, artists also have to justify their own work and repeatedly subject themselves to evaluation and criticism. Artists have a need to obtain feedback about their applications and spend less time both applying for grants and submitting clarifications on how they were used.
Mutual interaction, peer support and learning from other artists are important for artists. Work communities at their best support the work of individual artists and enable the sharing of thoughts and information. Conversely, work communities and collaboration patterns can also be connected to stress, for example due to unclear responsibilities and poor management, or a lack of management altogether. These are more commonly encountered in those fields of the arts where working alone is less common, especially in the fields of music and the performing arts. Many artists are not surrounded by a work community at all, however, and working alone and being isolated all the time or quite often caused stress for up to 41 percent of all respondents. Indeed, artists wished for more interactions and sharing with other artists. According to the results of the barometer, working alone is also connected to a weaker experience of inclusion.
Working while sick is a major problem in the arts – the lack of occupational health services leaves artists alone with work-related problems
The majority of artists continue to work when they are sick and feel they lack the time, money or opportunities to take sick leave. Artists fear that taking sick leave will have a direct impact on their earnings and future job opportunities. Taking sick leave may lead to the cancellation of productions, performances or exhibitions due to their strict and often inflexible schedules. Artists can only rarely be replaced by a substitute. In the absence of occupational health services, artists may take unofficial sick leave when they have more time in their calendars, during periods of unemployment and in between various work projects. Artists may also use grant periods, when their livelihoods are more secure, to recover from work.
Although the majority of artists feel they can usually recover sufficiently from the stress caused by their work, as many as one in three respondents feels that the amount of recovery is not sufficient. To help them recover, artists would need, for example, the opportunity to take more holiday leave than at present, but in practice few artists have the time or money to do so. The reasons for insufficient holiday leave are often found in work schedules and financial obstacles. Small and irregular earnings, hard-to-predict work schedules and the need to constantly apply for funding make it difficult to stop and take holiday leave. When holiday leave is taken, it is typically unpaid and timed between work assignments.
Among the artists who responded to the survey, almost three out of four were not entitled to occupational health services provided by an employer or obtained occupational health services for themselves during 2021. It is increasingly concerning that only a very small percentage of artists are covered by occupational health services in their work as an artist. In particular, artists who combine several sources of income are often excluded from social security structures that support livelihoods and occupational health. The occupational wellbeing of artists could be increased by sharing information that social security structures support artists even in situations when there is no work, when they have no earnings or when they fall ill.
Artists have a need for both acute and preventive health services and other services that support and maintain their occupational health. For example, various services related to body conditioning, maintaining physical condition, rest, relaxation and recovery are important in promoting the occupational wellbeing of artists. The use of these kinds of services could be promoted by offering the possibility of receiving support using them. In addition, it is important that various services that support occupational wellbeing take into account the unique characteristics of artists’ work.
The occupational wellbeing of artists is also undermined by shortcomings in unemployment security and social security, as there is often no security in case of illness, unemployment or life changes. The insurance premiums paid for small incomes are considered expensive, and there is little belief in the security they provide. In entrepreneurship, there is a particular fear of being excluded from unemployment insurance. With more equal social security and occupational health services, it would be possible to significantly improve the occupational wellbeing of artists.