New Zealanders employed in creative professions juggle jobs, and rely on safety nets to ensure they can put food on the table. But even that doesn’t break their passion for their artform.
Research released by Creative New Zealand and NZ On Air is the first of its kind in almost 20 years, asking close to 1,500 people working in creative professions questions about their income, training, means of support and wellbeing to better understand barriers to sustaining a creative career.
A Profile of Creative Professionals finds the majority of creative professionals covered in the survey have difficulty making a sustainable living from their principal artform or creative practice.
Most rely on other sources of financial support such as another job or a partner’s income to survive, and most can’t dedicate as much time to their art or creative practice as they would like.
The survey by Colmar Brunton involved a range of artforms and creative practices supported through Creative New Zealand and NZ On Air, and included people who earned some income from their creative career in the financial year prior to the survey being carried out.
The median personal annual income for creative professionals in this survey is around $35,800 – compared to $51,800 for all New Zealanders earning a wage or salary or $37,900 for self-employed New Zealanders. However, when you take away other sources of income, the median income from creative work is only $15,000.
The highest paid creative professions in this survey were video game developers and the lowest paid were dancers. Despite their low earnings, creative professionals are highly committed to their sector – only three percent think they’ll leave the creative industries in the next five years.
“This research provides valuable insights into the challenges of making a living as a creative professional. It’s a useful marker as we work with the sector to support fair reward for creative work and more sustainable careers in the industry, and develop stronger arts and creative sectors for the benefit of all New Zealanders,” said Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright.