The Census of Boulder Artists
“According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Boulder has the third highest concentration of professional artists in the nation per capita…”
The City of Boulder is fortunate to have such a creative community of artists working here. To learn more about the important role artists play in our local economy and society, the Office of Arts and Culture conducted a series of studies to better understand the lives of professional, practicing artists. A census survey, focus groups and reviewing related studies from across the state and nation, helps us gain a clearer picture of how our artists are surviving and thriving as workers and small business owners in Boulder.
The Artist Census was designed to a) clarify and expand our understanding of the lives of artists, b) confirm anecdotes that have been heard in the community, and c) give direction to community leaders and organizations who are working to improve the lives of artists, particularly regarding the recommendations in the City of Boulder’s Community Cultural Plan.
The report includes four findings as well as Community Cultural Plan recommendations, advice from Qualitative Research Centre (QRC), the consultants working with our focus groups, and references, notes and resources.
The findings include:
One: Boulder is an inspiring home for artists. But, it is not an “arts city.”
Two: Earnings from arts professions are low.
Three: Low incomes plus high housing costs and a modest local marketplace results in “The Squeeze.”
Four: Boulder has the ingredients to be a great home for artists and their small business enterprises. But we are not there yet.
Each of these findings are presented in three categories:
- What the data tells us about Boulder artists
- How that compares to other places and industries
- Focus group analysis conducted by QRC
- Creativity Connects: a study of artists by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
- Creative Vitality Suite (CVS): a tool by WESTAF which includes findings on creative professionals
- Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
- Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a study of nonprofits by American’s for the Arts (AFTA)
- And other research and assessments
The findings from survey data and analysis of the focus groups is summarized in a preliminary presentation delivered to the Boulder Arts Commission in September 2018. Find the presentation here.
Full data from the surveys is available by request: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The staff of the Office of Arts and Culture and the Boulder Arts Commission wish to thank the survey respondents and focus group participants. Additionally, special thanks to Vicki Johns and Arnie Jacobson of QRC for their excellent work on the focus groups.