SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Study Compares the Diversity of New York City's Arts and Culture Workforce Against General Population To Identify Gaps

The New York City Workforce Demographics Study, 2019 (Pilot)

Arts, culture, arts education, and creativity are major contributors to New Yorkers’ quality of life, and the arts and culture sector is an important part of New York City’s local economy. This pilot study was undertaken by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs to better understand the demographic makeup of a sample of organizations in this sector. This information will be a key tool to help ensure that every resident of New York City has access to all opportunities offered by the arts and culture sector.

The SMU DataArts Workforce Demographics pilot study collected data from individuals who work or volunteer for a group of 65 DCLA-funded organizations, surveying five demographic characteristics: 1) Heritage (race, ethnicity, and nation of origin); 2) Age; 3) Gender; 4) Sexual Orientation, and 5) Disability. Of the 65 DCLA-funded organizations that participated in this pilot study, 32 were Cultural Development Fund (CDF) grantees and 33 were members of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG). As a frame of reference, the 32 CDF organizations represent 3% of all organizations supported by the Cultural Data Fund. For purposes of analysis, charts are shown in aggregate to include data from all 65 organizations.

The New York City workforce demographics pilot study began on August 7th and closed on October 2nd, 2018. SMU DataArts received responses from 6,928 individuals representing 7,006 affiliations at 65 arts and cultural organizations in New York City. These responses constituted a 26.3% response rate when compared to the total workforce size of the participating organizations. Note that there are more affiliations than individuals due to the fact that an individual could affiliate with more than one organization (e.g. being a board member of one organization and a volunteer at another).

This pilot workforce demographics study provides a baseline of demographic data for 65 arts and culture organizations in New York City. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and SMU DataArts are planning a follow-up study to commence in Fall 2020 that will include more organizations and allow for comparisons over time for organizations participating in both studies. Specifically, this will include organizations in the Cultural Institutions Group as all 33 were surveyed for this study and will be surveyed again in the next iteration.

Key Findings

The arts workforce is less diverse than the city's population.

Based on responses from our survey, a high share (66%) of cultural workers identify as White (non-Hispanic), compared to just 32% of New York City’s population. In contrast, Hispanics, Blacks/African Americans, and Asians are underrepresented – 10% of cultural workers identify as Black/African American, compared to 22% of the city’s population; 11% identify as Hispanic, compared to 29% of city residents; and 6% identify as Asian, compared to 14% of city residents.

Diversity also varies based on the role within the organization.

Respondents selecting the role “Community Engagement” most closely match the racial makeup of New York City as a whole. Service personnel such as Security, Retail/Merchandise, and Facilities are predominantly people of color, while Boards and Executive Leadership are 70% and 68% White (non-Hispanic), respectively.

The age distribution of respondents closely matches that of New York City's population, but only 35% of Executive Leadership is under the age of 50.

General staff positions trend younger with 72% under the age of 50. Conversely, Executive Leadership and Boards trend older with over 61% and 69% over age 50, respectively. At the detailed role level, positions in Membership, Community Engagement, and Development trended toward younger employees, while positions in Finance, Facilities, and Security trended older. This also reflects the accumulation of experience necessary for some leadership roles as well as the availability of discretionary time for older respondents to volunteer at arts and culture organizations.

The rate of LGBTQ respondents in this study is nearly four times the baseline rate from the Gallup report and Executive Leadership showed the second-highest response rate based on role.

Overall, a large share (15%) of the arts workforce in this study identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer and the role of Executive Leadership had the second-largest response rate at 26%. The role of Technical/Production had a slightly larger share at 27%, but all roles had a higher response rate than was found in the Gallup study of the Metro Area.

In 2012 and 2014, the public-opinion company Gallup conducted the largest study of the distribution of the LGBTQ population to date. In interviews with 36,947 respondents in the New York-Newark-Jersey City Metro Area, Gallup found that 4.0% of the New York City population responded “yes” to the question: “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" As such, the rate of LGBTQ respondents in this study is nearly four times the baseline rate from the Gallup report.

Eight percent of the arts and culture workforce reported having a disability, compared to 11% of all New York City residents.

The SMU DataArts Workforce Demographics Study questionnaire asked respondents to describe their disability using the following options:

  • Person with an emotional or behavioral disability
  • Person with a learning disability
  • Person with a physical disability or mobility impairment
  • Person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • Person who is blind or visually impaired
  • Person with an intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disability
  • Person with a communication disorder, who is unable to speak, or who uses a device to speak
  • Other, my disability is not listed here
  • Person without a disability

If respondents indicated that their disability was not listed, they had the option to describe their disability in an open text field.

Respondents were given the option of selecting more than one category. “Person with a disability” is the aggregation of the categories as shown in the list above. Eight percent of respondents identify as person with a disability. 

When viewed by organizational role, Executive Leadership (non-board) were most likely to report having a disability (11%). Additionally, at the detailed role level, Visitor/Patron Services and Retail/Merchandise respondents were most likely to report having a disability, with 14% and 15% selecting a disability, respectively.


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Putting Data to Work

This study was undertaken by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and builds on the 2016 study on the workforce of city-funded, nonprofit cultural organizations, which found major disparities between the makeup of the cultural workforce and the city’s population and helped to shape a number of new programs and policies aimed at promoting a more diverse and inclusive cultural sector. 

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