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 2012. This indicator is also included in the National Arts Index.

 

Additional Information: Counties with indicator value = 2,479. Average county indicator value = 157.22. Median county indicator value = 121.89.

 

Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Consumer arts spending steady at $150 billion!

Since 2002, consumer spending on the arts has remained in the $150 billion range, though as a share of all expenditures it has slipped from 1.88% in 2002 to 1.45% in 2010. Following four years of decreases, musical instrument sales rebounded, growing from $5.9 billion in 2009 to $6.3 billion in 2010.