Study Examines Diversity of New York City-Funded Arts Workforce

Study Examines Diversity of New York City-Funded Arts Workforce

People of color remain underrepresented in the workforce of city-funded arts and cultural nonprofits in New York City, a report from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and SMU DataArts finds.

Based on survey data from sixty-five organizations — thirty-three members of the Cultural Institutions Group, which are located on city-owned property and operate as city-owned facilities, and thirty-two Cultural Development Fund grantees — the report, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Workforce Demographics Pilot Study Results (31 pages, PDF), found that white Americans, who account for 32 percent of the city's population, made up 66 percent of the cultural workforce, while Latinx, African Americans, and Asian Americans, who account for 29 percent, 22 percent, and 14 percent, respectively, of the city's population, made up only 10 percent, 11 percent, and 6 percent. The demographic composition of the city is most closely mirrored by respondents' community engagement staff, which was 37 percent white, 30 percent Latinx, 19 percent African American, and 1 percent Asian American, while board members and executive leaders were predominantly white (69 percent and 67.7 percent) and security staff were predominantly African American (37 percent) or Latinx (26 percent).

A follow-up to a 2016 study that found significant disparities between the demographic makeup of the cultural workforce and the city's population, the pilot study also collected data on sexual orientation and disabilities. While 4 percent of the New York City population identify as LGBTQ, 15 percent of the surveyed arts and cultural workforce identified as LGBTQ and 11 percent declined to answer. The largest percentages of those identifying as LGBTQ were in technical/production positions (27 percent), executive leadership positions (26 percent), and visitor/patron services (25 percent).

The report also found that 8 percent of the surveyed workforce identified as having a disability —  physical, learning, emotional or behavioral, and/or intellectual, cognitive, or developmental — compared with 4 percent of all employed New York City residents and 11 percent of all New York City residents. Those in retail/merchandise positions were most likely to report having a disability (15 percent), followed by those in visitor/patron services (14 percent), technical/production (12 percent), executive leadership (11 percent), and security (11 percent) positions.

The thirty-three Cultural Institutions Group members are in the process of formally adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion plans as required by the city. The Department of Cultural Affairs plans to survey all its constituent organizations in 2020 to provide a baseline that includes data on sexual orientation and disability.

"NYC residents represent an array of cultures, histories, backgrounds, and experiences — and our cultural organizations must reflect that extraordinary breadth," said cultural affairs commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. "This means we need to look at diversity across a number of metrics, including age, disability status, and LGBTQ identity, as well as race and gender. This new DataArts survey gives us a tool we can use to do that more effectively and over time. The data we gather will help us design programs to support NYC's arts and cultural institutions in their ongoing efforts to create opportunities for all New Yorkers."

"New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Workforce Demographics Pilot Study Results." New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and SMU DataArts Report 07/29/2019. "NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Releases New Report on Demographics of City’s Cultural Workforce." New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Press Release 07/29/2019.