Productivity, income and gender: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists

Aboriginal Australians Torres Strait Islanders Artists Arts citizen participation Indigenous art Rural and remote communities Australia
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Social inclusion, where economic growth includes both genders, is the objective of most societies. There are over 14,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in remote Australia. Based on the sample of the Art Centre artists with gender data (n=3,406), over 70% of artists are female. Income from the sale of art products supports the development of the artists’ career and generates art production and management skills in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The story behind the art product (e.g. landscape and culture), introduces non– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art buyers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and traditions. A small number of artists received high returns from the sale of art. Only eight (Art Centre) artists had a total sales value of more than $1,000,000, just 0.27% of artists. The vast majority of artists’ total sales value was less than $10,000, (70.80% of artists). Only 157 (5.40%) artists earned more than $100,000. The average value of art products increased over time for artists: The average value of the first and last art products that artists produced and the minimum and maximum values of products were highly variable for all artists. Most artists’ first product (and minimum value products) were significantly less than their maximum product value and the value of their last product. Artist have highly variable income: Six artists’ production and value data were analysed over time. Each artist had highly variable income, and variable average value of art products over their careers. There are a number of reasons this might be the case: • All artists produced more than they sold. However, some artists had significantly more stock (Artist 3 completed 348 art products, with 100 sold) than other artists (Artist 5 completed 171 art products, with 161 sold). • Productivity (number of products received for sale) was variable across years. • There are annual peaks and troughs of total sales and productivity. The sales value of artists who produced from 5 to 99 art products (n=2533, 87% of artists), represents a quarter ($22,450,675) of the total value ($84,119,895) of the artist’s production in this study. The 24 artists that produced over 499 art products, had a total product value of $20,478,566. Productivity categories were an indicator of the value a female or male artist received for an art product. Highly productive females also received a higher average value for art products: The number of products produced by an artist was an indicator of the average value of art products. Artists who had higher productivity (more than 399 art products) had higher total sales value but many had lower average values. Artists with higher average values usually produced fewer art products. These points are highlighted about gender: • Females who produce fewer than 100 art products received a lower average value ($7,312) than males ($14,253) for art products. • Highly productive female artists’ (producing over 399 art products) average sales are more than 50% higher than for equivalent male artists. • Of the artists who produced more than 499 art products, females received a total value of $947,744 and males received a total value of $623,846.

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