Independent artists are one of the most vivid pieces of evidence that the arts are thriving in any location. Solo artists, regardless of artistic medium or discipline, are very often both the fuel and the spark of a local arts scene. Many artists are also entrepreneurs, launching their work into the world through their own studios, performance spaces, and readings. Overall, we think of the presence of solo artists as a marker of a community’s capacity to deliver the arts.

The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) is a system of 1,800 codes for classifying businesses into different industries. The Local and National Arts Index reports use a set of 44 NAICS codes that we selected as the best representation of arts and culture from those 1,800 codes. The Census Bureau provides county-level tallies of establishments, employment, and payroll in the County Business Patterns web site. The Bureau also provides data on the number of “non-employer” businesses in many NAICS codes.

This indicator measures the number of solo artists per 100,000 residents of a county. They are identified as solo artists by non-employer establishments in four-digit NAICS code 7115, which describes “Independent artists, writers, and performers.” Nationally, there were 730,000 such solo artists in 2011. This indicator is also included in the National Arts Index.

 

Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 2,490. Average county indicator value = 152.65. Median county indicator value = 117.04.

 

Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Audiences are growing!

In 2010, 32 percent of the adult population attended a performing arts event (up from 28 percent in 2009); 13 percent visited an art museum (up slightly from 12 percent). These are the first increases since 2003.