According to federal statistics, more than a third of all artists are self-employed. We also know that many key arts industries consist mainly of small businesses. For example, more than 85 percent of performing arts companies and virtually all design firms employ fewer than 20 workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put American artists and arts organizations in the crosshairs of a severe economic contraction. Freelance arts workers and small arts businesses are among the most vulnerable. Especially now, it can be useful to quantify the role of self-employed workers and small businesses in the overall arts economy.