Wyoming Arts Council

SNAAP study: Performing and visual arts alumni take many paths to meet career objectives

This report on a study by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project comes to us via NASAA Notes from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies:

Value Plus SchoolsThe Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) at Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research addresses the previously unanswered question of what happens to alumni of performing and visual arts in its report Forks in the Road: The Many Paths of Arts Alumni

Stereotypes and misconceptions abounded about what these graduates were doing, with one of the most common being that they are unable to find work in their desired field and therefore are forced to take jobs outside of their desired field. After receiving 13,581 responses, SNAAP was able to dispel that myth and provide a clearer picture of the activities of these graduates. 

At the time of the survey in December 2010, only 6% of arts alumni were unemployed and looking for work, compared to 9.6% of the national work force. However, this number is slightly higher than the unemployment rate of 4.8% for those with at least a bachelor’s degree.* 41% of graduates are currently working as professional artists, and 17% who previously worked as professional artists are employed in other fields. Among professional artists, satisfaction with their work varies widely among occupation, but satisfaction with income is low across occupations. 

Arts alumni are generally happy with their education, with more than 90% responding that their experience was good or excellent and 76% responding that they would attend the same institution again. More than half of those currently working outside the arts found their arts training relevant to their job. The survey results suggest that career counseling at performing arts schools could be improved. More than half of undergraduates were dissatisfied with their institutions’ career advising, and a similar percentage thought their institution did not help them acquire financial and business skills. 

The SNAAP website has more information about the study and six very cool interactive infographics. There is also information for institutions to sign up to participate in future SNAAP surveys. If you would like to speak to a NASAA staff person about this study, contact Henry Clapp.

Henry Clapp, NASAA Research Associate

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