NEFA Creative City photo of Zili Misik by Zachary Sar

What do Artists and Creative Workers in New England need to Thrive Here?

New England Foundation for the Arts’ director of research introduces “Creatives Count”—a new survey of area creatives to bring more resources and attention to their sector.

Creative workers are a vital part of our region’s vibrancy. Yet they are often undercounted and, as a result, their creative work is not as well-supported as it might be. This is due in part to the fluid nature of their work lives, but also, even in this era of big data, to a significant knowledge gap about the size and diversity of our region’s population of artists and creative workers, and about the opportunities and challenges they face in producing creative work here. In an unprecedented effort to change that, and to hear directly from as many of New England’s artists and creative workers as possible, the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), the state arts agencies from the six New England states, and the Barr Foundation have launched a new survey called Creatives Count, which is open now until November 18.

This survey is designed to collect work-related data that will help fill this knowledge gap. Artists and creative workers of all kinds are encouraged to take the survey online in English, Chinese, or Spanish, and to encourage colleagues to do so, as well. For the purposes of this survey, we define “creative workers” as visual artists, dancers, musicians, theater-makers, designers, craftspeople, architects, digital media creators, culture bearers, writers, and more.

The survey does take some time to fill out—roughly 30 minutes. Yet the work and lives of creative workers are complicated and complex. And only by knowing who they are, where they are, and what they need, can those of us who advocate for better policies, or who plan, support, and lead programs to help and advance their creative work—only then can we be as effective as we need to be.

All responses will be kept confidential and will be reported only in the aggregate, so that no individuals can be identified. A final report on the whole creative sector in New England will be released in spring 2017, and all respondents will be notified and have the opportunity to download a copy at that time. Those who complete the survey will also have the option to have a profile created and populated with relevant detail on NEFA’s regional creative economy directory, CreativeGround—although artists and creative workers can also create their own profiles on CreativeGround at any time. The website, which is unique to our region, is a free online community that spotlights and connects the rich range of creative people and places at work in the six New England states. Additionally, everyone who completes a survey will automatically be entered into a drawing to win one of 12 gift cards.

NEFA, together with our partners at the New England state arts agencies (Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Maine Arts Commission, Massachusetts Cultural Council, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Vermont Arts Council), the Barr Foundation, and advocates for creative workers around the region thank everyone who responds for their input, and we look forward to sharing the report in the spring.

Take the Creatives Count survey now

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Dee Schneidman

Guest Author Program Director for Research and Creative Economy New England Foundation for the Arts