Hawaii’s artist community counts nationally
Hawaii tops the nation in the number of photographers in the work force, per 100,000 population.
So says "Artists in the Workforce: 1990 to 2005," a study by the National Endowment for the Arts released last week.
That drew a snarky comment from the artistic director of the Minnesota Center of Photography, as reported in a newspaper there.
It said he was pleased his home state almost made the top 5 (it was No. 6), but was skeptical of the report because Hawaii ranked first.
George Slade told the Pioneer Press, "I don't think of Hawaii as a hotbed for photography."
One word, sir. Postcards. Calendars. Weddings. Freelancers for travel publications. OK that's a bunch of words.
Hawaii's artists in the work force can be proud.
The NEA separated artists into 11 categories and Hawaii was No. 6 in total artists with 84.1 per 100,000 population. In addition to tops in photogs, we are:
» No. 2 in dancers and choreographers
» No. 2 in musicians
» No. 3 in fine artists, art directors and animators
» No. 3 in entertainers and performers
» No. 5 in architects
» No. 6 in producers and directors
» No. 7 in announcers
We are not top 10 in actors; designers; or writers and authors.
Several tables in the 150-page report break out the numbers in different ways, including the numbers of various types of artists by state of residence.
It is inconceivable that Hawaii only had 565 dancers and choreographers in the year 2000. Still, that was good enough for a No. 2 ranking. Numbers in other categories also seem low.
The NEA says the report is the century's first national look at artists' demographic and employment patterns. It does not reflect economic impact, but gives an overview of artists' segment of the work force, which is 1.4 percent, slightly smaller than the number of active-duty U.S. military personnel.
Hawaii's high placement was not surprising to the Hawaii Alliance for Arts Education.
"We do often come up very high in arts funding with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the artist population rankings," said Marla Musick, communications director for the Alliance.
Topping lists is great, but the term starving artist reflects reality.
"We have a lot of practitioners who love it and are compelled to do it ... but it doesn't necessarily provide them career funds," she said.
"We have a responsibility to keep having (the arts) thrive and consider it one of our deepest assets," she said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org