How Many Artists Really Live in Dallas, And Where Does the City Rank Nationally?

I suspect the Friday sandwiched in between a holiday and a weekend is going to have that hazy, lazy summer feeling about it for many of you. So if you’re looking for a way to while away the hours today, check out the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest census of artists in America. In addition to all sorts of interesting macro stats (according to the NEA there are roughly 2 million working artists in the U.S., or about 1.4 percent of the workforce), there are tons of downloadable data tables, and a nifty interactive map that lets you compare stats by state.

California, according to this latest study, boasts the largest population of employed artists, which is not surprising when you consider that many of the creative professions associated with the entertainment industry are counted as working artists. In fact, if there’s a shortcoming to the study it is the way the data groups together certain professions in way that skews the information in favor of the entertainment industry. For example, “fine artists” are lumped in with art directors and animators, professions that exist within an entirely different ecosystem of professional support. Producers and directors enjoy a standalone category, as do actors, but neither differentiates between stage and screen employment (or childhood entertainment for that matter). There’s also not a lot of information on how professional artists are defined. What percentage of an annual income obtained through artistic activity is considered “professional?” Or, if an artist or author teaches at a university, does that same artist count as a professional artist?

These are the usual ambiguities you get with this kind of sweeping report. Nonetheless, there is some interesting information to be mined from the data. I was interested in where Dallas ranked, what are our strongest creative professions, and what cities boast high percentage of artists verses their overall workforce population. I crunched the data and here’s what I found:


Dallas ranks sixth overall in terms of artists in the workplace, but as you can see, the top two cities far outpace other areas of the country. Here are the top 11 (since Houston falls just outside the top ten).

1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island: 228,055

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA: 194,450

3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI: 74,920

4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA: 56,605

5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD: 52,625

6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX: 43,045

7. Boston-Cambridge-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE: 40,215

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA: 39,685

10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: 33,375

11. Houston: 31,870



Interestingly, when you break down the data in terms of the percentage of artists related to the overall workforce population of a given area, a different map of where creative work happens in America emerges:

1. Sante Fe, NM: 3.3 %

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA: 3.0%

3. Boulder, CO: 2.8%

4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA: 2.5%

5. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island: 2.4%

6. Kingston, NY: 2.3%

7. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: 2.3%

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: 2.1 %

9. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA: 2.0%

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA: 2.0%

A couple of things to note about this list. With a percentage of artists to workforce of 1.33% the DFW region is in the muddling middle of a huge pack. Also, there are a few commuter cities in the NY and Los Angeles area that are bolstered by the large creative/entertainment industries of those metropolitan areas, reemphasizing what we already know, that NYC and LA are the dominate centers of cultural production in the U.S. I also found it interesting that cities that enjoy a general reputation as “artsy” pop up into the top ten when considering the percentage of artists in relation to workforce, places like Sante Fe, Portland, and Boulder, CO.


As mentioned, the NEA’s numbers consider a wide range of professions “artistic,” and so the numbers get more interesting when you break them down by category (what city has the most working actors, working authors, etc). Yet still, the data understandably is skewed towards the entertainment industry. For example, I have to wonder if the reason Orlando ranks so high on the list of actors is related to the number of Disney World employees who tick-off “actor” on their tax return because there’s no box for “Goofy.”

Here are the top ten rankings by profession category. Dallas fairs fairly well on all of them even if there is something unsatisfying about the data. According to the NEA, Dallas boasts 2,365 producers and directors, 1,250 more than Austin. And yet, which city is the capital of Texas filmmaking?


1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA        17,650
2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA          9,465
3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI          1,340
4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL             870
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA             765
6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL             690
7. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA             600
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI             590
9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD             585
10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV             525


11. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV             510
12. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA             455
13. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX             440
14. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH             430



1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 20250
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 11080
3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 8920
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 7905
5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 7650
6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 6180
7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 5050
8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4665
9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 4590
10. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 4505



1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 22235
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 20470
3. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 7370
4. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 6480
5. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 3890
6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 3795
7. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 3710
8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 3590
9. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 3515
10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 3505



1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 2165
2. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 1710
3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 1480
4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 830
5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 770
6. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 635
7. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 525
8. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 510
9. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ 510
10. Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 405



1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 17630
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 16315
3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 6520
4. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 4765
5. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 4600
6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4145
7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 4020
8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 3930
9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 3505
10. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 3200



1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 14640
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 11185
3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 4990
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 3510
5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 3385
6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 3205
7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 3070
8. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 2685
9. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2560
10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 2500



1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 29575
2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 24410
3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 4465
4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 4460
5. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 3920
6. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 3900
7. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 3365
8. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 2500
9. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 2365
10. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2330



1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 24785
2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 18230
3. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 9765
4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 7450
5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 5840
6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 5660
7. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4330
8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 3445
9. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 3380
10. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 2950


Image at top: U.S. Army Arts Projects at Fort Belvoir, Virginia: Four soldier-artists working on their murals. ca. 1942 (via)


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