Artists One Year Later: Survey of 9/11's Economic Impact on Individual Artists
(prototype for our "Custom Survey")
Jonathan Slaff, as Chairman of DowntownNYC!, Inc. (www.downtown-nyc.org), conceived and was chief author of the most important survey to-date on the economic welfare of the New York arts community following the 9/11 attacks.
One year after 9/11 attacks, the world did not see the lingering impact the devastation had on New York’s vital artistic community, a population of professionals and craftspeople that was largely invisible to government agencies, the press, and the public. In order to empower advocates for government assistance to artists, Jonathan Slaff conceived a survey to ascertain the economic impact of September 11th on the estimated 150,000 working artists of all disciplines, who are the key drivers for the arts and entertainment industry in New York City.
Jonathan Slaff led a team from the Government Outreach Committee of DowntownNYC!, which wrote a survey and designed an IT infrastructure for it. Initiated by Mr. Slaff and his colleagues, the effort attracted allies and was ultimately co-sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) in conjunction with Consortium For Worker Education (CWE). The survey covered individual artists of all disciplines—performing, visual, literary, and multimedia—who create for a living. It quantified the economic loss of the creative community as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks, as separate from the general economic downturn of 2000-2001.
This survey was rigorous and conclusive, being conducted through professional organizations, labor unions, and the resources of arts granting organizations. When its results were released publicly in September 2002, they changed the nature of the dialogue relating to 9/11 relief efforts and the role of the arts in the modern New York economy. The creative economy of New York was shown to have been more critically affected than the city economy at large. Work-related income of 82% of respondents was reported in decline, with an average loss of income of approximately 46%. Of respondents who rented, 13% were reportedly facing eviction. The numbers that were gathered, in tandem with the voluminous anecdotal evidence, formed a picture of a community in plight, which had not yet seen light at the end of the tunnel.
The survey suggested that whole industries in New York, those dependent upon the creative output of individual artists, were being jeopardized by ignorance of this struggle. Jonathan Slaff, as principal author of the study, became a key spokesman for relief efforts for artists, and he is now routinely called for expert testimony in Government hearings and news stories.
The survey also helped deliver assistance the arts community by expanding outreach for Consortium for Worker Education's Emergency Employment Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse was created in the wake of 9/11 with federal money. CWE wanted to provide job retraining and placement to the many self-employed artists who had lost work and income after 9/11. Accordingly, a section in the survey was devised to solicit those participants interested in being contacted by CWE and its partner, the Actors Fund, about its skills assessment, job retraining, counseling, and flexible employment opportunity program. Participants could also indicate interest in the Actors’ Fund’s Entertainment Industry Health Insurance Enrollment Center.
Press coverage appeared in The New York Times, Reuters, CNN, NPR, New York 1, Backstage, Crain's New York Business and The Villager/Downtown Express, among others.
here to see:
Report of the Survey
"Survey Finds Artists Since 9/11 Have Less Work and More Debt" (New York Times)
The Continuing Economic Impact of 9/11 upon Individual Artists of All Disciplines
(prototype for our "Write-In Survey")
There was a need to further track the struggles of New York's individual artists of all disciplines over the time since the first survey in 2002. Anecdotally, we knew that artists were moving out of New York and giving up established careers due to economic hardship. It was hoped that more information on these matters could help to guide policy makers on how to help restore the creative economy of NYC to its pre-9/11 vitality.
A write-in survey was organized during February, 2004 and distributed to the members of the original 2002 sample. Responses showed that income loss for artists of all disciplines was slowing, but not due to any rebound in artistic work, and that economic conditions had sparked a 15% migration of people in the creative professions out of New York City.
Press coverage appeared in The New York Times, NPR, Crain's New York Business and The NY Daily News, among others. This coverage magnified public awareness of the issues. The survey has become a key resource for arts advocates during recent arts funding debates.
Click here to see:
Report of the Survey
"Survey Finds Post-9/11 Times Harder for City's Artists" (New York Times)
"New York City is Giving Artists the Brush-Off: Unaffordable; Other Cities Happy to Oblige" (Crain's New York Business)
"City Seeming A Bit Artless" (NY Daily News)