In 1993, Dick Netzer and Ellen Parker prepared a very specific report for the National Endowment for the Arts based on a survey conducted by Alyce Dissette and Richard J. Orend [pdf]. The original survey, conducted in 1990, was circulated to about 2000 choreographers in four cities in the United States (Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.). About a quarter of those responded.
The original report (NEA Research Report 28 [pdf]) has been scanned and reproduced digitally at least a few times by various institutions. Unfortunately, when the document was originally published, many of the figures provided were printed in something that very nearly approximated non-repo blue, and so the scanned documents reproduce these figures poorly, if at all. The one linked above is the best I could find.
Behold, the power of the library. I managed to track down a real, paper version of this document, complete with it’s binding glue disintegrating, and with a little patience (including some unfortunate issues of “that’s available online, you don’t need the paper version, so you can’t have it”)… I present to you, for your dance economics reading pleasure (not sure ‘pleasure’ is the right word…), the 2017 digital edition of NEA Research Report 28 [pdf]. There are probably some errors and omissions in this version. If you find any, please let me know.
From the report itself:
This report summarizes the results of the National Endowment for the Arts study of the general working conditions, financial status, performance opportunities, funding, and work practices of choreographers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The study provides benchmark statistics on a sample of the national choreographer population and documents the difficult circumstances in which these artists work. Completed mail questionnaires from more than 500 choreographers and telephone interviews with over 200 more provided the primary data. Study findings important to the dance field, to the philanthropic community and to policymakers are arranged under the following headings: demographics, professional experience, productivity and use of time, performance opportunities, professional issues, financial conditions, funding, choreographers’ companies.
Important in this report is the distinction between dancer and choreographer – the work habits, support requirements, and income opportunities are dramatically different than those of dance performers. In most studies (and most government statistics), “dancer” and “choreographer” are combined, if “choreographer” is available as a separate profession at all. This report provides some insight into those difference, and why they are important from a policy and economic perspective.
I can’t commit to it now, but a follow-on study of choreographers in the Baltimore Metro region might be the next step after the Baltimore Regional Dance Study. That is a very intense level of participation (the NEA study was almost 80 questions), so dramatically improving participation rates is critical to making this level of research possible (and meaningful).