CBS: Artists Monitor

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Statistics Netherlands (CBS), on October 6, 2021 published the Monitor Artists and other employed persons with a creative profession 2021. The Monitor compares persons employed as artists with other employed persons with a creative profession, employed persons at the highest professional level and with the employed labour force as a whole. The most recent data cover the period 2017/2019.


Two percent labor force is artist

In the period 2017/2019, there was an annual average of 164 thousand artists and 263 thousand other employed persons with a creative profession in the Netherlands. That was, as in previous reporting periods, two and three percent of the employed labor force, respectively. A relatively large number of artists live in North Holland, especially in the Amsterdam region, and the province of Utrecht. Artists work not only in the culture, recreation and other services industry, but also in the information and communication industry and in business services. 

Smallest subgroup: 13,000 visual artists

In this Monitor, the professions that artists practice are divided into four groups. With 13 thousand, visual artists formed the smallest group within the artists' population. In 2010/2012 there were still 15 thousand visual artists. The group of 'design professions' - including graphic designers, multimedia designers and architects - formed the largest group in 2017/2019, with 81 thousand people. In 2010/ 2012, there were still 63 thousand. In 2017/2019, 47 thousand musicians, singers, composers, dancers, directors and actors made up the group of 'performing professions' (2010/ 2012: 34 thousand). The group of 'writers, translators and other artists' professions' consisted of 23 thousand people in 2017/2019, compared to 21 thousand in 2010/2012. 


Forty percent of all artists in 2017/2019 were 45 years or older. This is virtually the same as the percentage in 2010/2012 and 2013/2015. The percentage of those over 65 is higher among artists than in the employed labor force as a whole and higher than in other creative occupations. Nearly 60 percent of artists were male, slightly higher than in the employed labor force as a whole. Just under a quarter of artists had a migrant background. Compared to the total employed labor force, the percentage of artists with a Western migration background was higher and the percentage with a non-Western migration background was lower. 

Highly educated

Nearly half of all artists in 2017/2019 had as their highest level of education an art degree, in most cases at least at the college level. Of the other workers in creative professions, one in six had an arts education. Of the group that had no art education, the majority also had an education at least at the college level. 

Self-employed workers

Artists were significantly more likely than average to work as self-employed and less likely to be salaried during the 2017/2019 period. Among the other creative professions, the share of self-employed was also relatively high. Since 2010/2012, those shares have not changed substantially, although among the other creative professions, the percentage of workers in flexible employment increased and the percentage of self-employed declined. Among artists, about half worked full time in their largest job; among the other creative professions it was somewhat higher. Artists were more likely than average to have more than one job, and artists and others employed in creative professions were also more likely than average to work from home. 


Artists with their own business or practice generally have a somewhat smaller client base than average among self-employed individuals. This is also true for other self-employed people with a creative profession. Of the self-employed, artists relatively often ran their businesses alone in the 2015/2019 period. However, artists, like others with creative professions, worked relatively often with other self-employed individuals. Both artists and other creative professions were somewhat more negative about their financial situation than average among self-employed individuals. Uncertainty about non-paying or poorly paying customers was most often perceived as an annoyance in their work. Artists and the entrepreneurs in other creative professions, relative to all self-employed, indicated relatively often that they would still like to do their current work as self-employed in five years. 

Income: lowest among visual artists

Artists in 2017/2019 had an average personal gross annual income of 32 thousand euros, nine thousand euros less than the employed labor force as a whole. Among artists, those with a design profession earned the most on average (38 thousand euros) and those with a visual profession earned the least (14 thousand euros). Artists, on average, have a personal gross income that is lower than that of other employed people in creative professions, who in turn have a typical income that is almost equal to that of the employed labor force as a whole. The income position of both groups differs considerably less when household composition and the income of other members of the household are taken into account. Over the past decade, the personal gross income of artists and other workers in creative professions has increased more than that of working people in general, but measured against household income, their relative income position has changed little or not at all. The average wealth of artists and other creative workers is slightly lower than the average wealth of all working people, although their wealth also grew substantially after the last economic crisis. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the value of homes. 

A small proportion not only had income from paid work, but also received benefits. Artists and others with a creative profession who work as self-employed entrepreneurs relatively often have no provisions for disability or retirement. 


Artists and other employed creative professionals found interesting work to be the most important aspect of their jobs in the 2017/2019 period. With this, workers in these professions were also most often satisfied. Good managers and a good salary were also often considered important, although satisfaction with these aspects was proportionally somewhat lower. Furthermore, about a quarter of the artists and the other creative professions among the self-employed were members of an interest group, which is lower than average. Artists and other creative professions in paid employment were relatively less likely to be members of a trade union, and less likely to be satisfied with trade unions. All told, among employees, just under eight in ten artists and other employed creative professionals were satisfied with their work. Employed artists were as likely as average to be satisfied with working conditions; among other workers in creative professions, it was somewhat higher than average. Among self-employed people, artists and others with a creative profession were somewhat less often satisfied than average with their working and employment conditions. 

To the Monitor Artists and other workers in creative professions, 2021

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