Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

County-wide Artists' Census launches April 1

28. March 2008 • Angela Martin-Barcelona
Email this article

How many artists live and work in Washtenaw County anyway? The Arts Alliance is launching a county-wide Artists’ Census on April 1 through May 17 to help try to answer just that question.

It’s easy to know how many arts organizations are in the county, but individual artists are often overlooked. Maybe your neighbor is a dancer, or your boss is an actor, or your waiter is a writer and you never knew it.

The census tabulations don’t provide an accurate count of the amount of artists we have in our county, or, for that matter our state. According to the Special Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulations of Census 2000 there are 63,140 artist occupations (making up 1.28% of the total civilian labor force) in the entire state of Michigan. Nearly half (32,635) of the artist occupations are designers. Surprisingly, as per the census there are 265 actors in the entire state, followed by 5,015 musicians and singers, and only 955 dancers and choreographers.

It’s time for artists in our county to raise their hands and be counted!

All artists and creative-minded individuals – visual, performing and literary, no matter their age or training – are encouraged to take this 2-minute census available online at www.artscount.org. Hard-copy versions of the census will be located at public libraries and creative venues throughout the county.

Artists help make Washtenaw County such a vibrant and great place to live. This census will help build the visibility and credibility of the many artists in our community.

The census questions were developed by a team of area artists and arts administrators using models developed by The Arts Economy Initiative, Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and others. Results of the census will be tabulated and announced as part of the Arts Alliance’s cultural plan report in October 2008.



  1. I hope this does not become a tax trap for individual artists.


       —not an artist    Mar. 28 '08 - 05:18PM    #
  2. This is great! So much of what makes Ann Arbor vital is the strength of our creative community.


       —Chuck W    Mar. 29 '08 - 08:18PM    #
  3. Not an Artist – thanks for your concern. We won’t be sharing artists’ personal information with any outside entities.

    We’re looking to build a community of artists rather than simply having a community with artists in it. We’re hoping that this census will help build a new era of respect for creative individuals once there’s a recognition of how large and significant this sector is in our region.


       —Angela Martín-Barcelona    Mar. 31 '08 - 03:03PM    #