NZ On Air and Creative New Zealand asked research agency Colmar Brunton to survey a range of creative professionals, to better understand career sustainability in the arts and creative industries.

The research found that New Zealanders employed in creative professions juggle jobs, and rely on safety nets to ensure they can put food on the table. But even that doesn’t break their passion for their creative work.

Close to 1,500 people were surveyed in November/December 2018 in a range of arts supported through the two funding agencies. Survey participants had earned at least some income from their creative work in the financial year ending 31 March 2018.

Key findings:

  • The median personal annual income for creative professionals in this survey is around $35,800 – compared to $51,800 for all New Zealanders earning a wage or salary or $37,900 for self-employed New Zealanders.
  • However, when you take away other sources of income, the median income from creative work is only $15,000.
  • The highest paid creative professions in this survey were video game developers and the lowest paid were dancers.
  • Despite their low earnings, creative professionals are highly committed to their sector – only three percent think they’ll leave the creative industries in the next five years.
  • 2/3 of creative professionals rely on a financial safety net - usually a partner's earnings or also working in a non-creative role.

A gender pay gap is also evident although the report is inconclusive as to why.

You can read the full report below, as well as a summary, and an NZ On Air discussion document.

Profile of Creative Professionals infographic poster