There is a gap in knowledge about artistic careers--few people fully understand the economics and sociology of the visual and performing arts. The public impression of the lives of artists are distorted because typically only the very successful get attention. Society generalizes based on those people who are statistical exceptions, not by looking at average careers, let alone those who discontinue their pursuit of arts professions.
For emerging young artists, it is essential to know the histories of the different performing and visual arts, and their training and craft traditions. Additionally, understanding the role of informal learning, differences in types of institutions, approaches to teaching-learning, and the subsequent likely career impact is important. While some have hailed the advances in the arts as a result of new technology, changes in the finances of performers are greatly impacted by the digital world. Many have commented on the greying audiences for classical music and opera, but the characteristics of the younger generations who appear to want to view, listen, and interact with visual and performance art differently may be even more impactful.
Gary A. Berg, PhD, MFA, is the author or editor of ten previous books including The Rise of Women in Higher Education: How, Why, and What's Next and Low-Income Students and the Perpetuation of Inequality, as well as numerous articles and short stories. Berg has an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA, and an MA in Film Studies from San Francisco State University.
Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: The Economics of the Arts
Chapter 2: Bias, the Failure Taboo, and Transitions to Sustainable Careers
Chapter 3: Educational Traditions, Patronage, and Student Debt
Chapter 4: Arts Institutions, Curricula, and Approaches to TeachingConclusion: The Artists of the Future
Berg's apt, well-researched, well-written book is both poetic and pragmatic…. Berg draws from national employment data and extensive content analysis of hundreds of interviews with artists and historians as well as secondary sources. The combination of quantitative data and qualitative perspectives creates a unique structure for a book providing job and career information. Similar to other career books, this one includes tables of different job titles, mean wages, and projected openings pulled from commonly used job sources such as the US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, Berg offers historical and sociological perspectives that contextualize the more nuanced directions a creative professional career path may take. Invaluable for all who are in the creative arts or interested in pursuing the vast and varied career options in the arts. Highly recommended. All readers.
Gary Berg provides a thoughtful, extremely well-researched analysis of the systemic challenges and potential opportunities for creative professionals as they pursue their careers. This “bird’s eye view” of the field will be extremely helpful to individual artists in their quest as well as to arts executives, policymakers and educators seeking to strengthen the cultural ecosystem and support artists in their efforts to bring joy, beauty and a sense of our shared humanity to our communities.
This book provides a topical and timey overview of the fraught circumstances of today’s professionalization – some would say industrialization – of contemporary artistic creativity and invention of all kinds. It’s appearance coincides with a moment of profound changes in creative lives (and not only professions!) of all kinds, and is driven by data, not opinion, regarding creative worlds that need facts today as much as they do artists and their audiences. I recommend it whole-heartedly.
1/31/23, Choice: This book was included in a roundup of top community college titles.