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Study says artists aren’t prepared for mishaps

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund recently released the results of a national research study called “Sustaining Careers: A Study of the Status of U.S. Craft Artists.” The study reveals artists’ attitudes about trends affecting the field, sales and income, insurance, emergency preparedness and recovery and legacy planning. It also provides updates and comparison data to a 2004 study.

The study found that 72 percent of full-time craft artists net less than $25,000 per year from their art-related income, while 45 percent net under $10,000.

“I found that number surprisingly low. I think too few people are able to make careers making work in the studio,” Craft Emergency Relief Fund executive director Cornelia Carey says.

The study determined that 60 percent of craft artists remain uninsured for business-related losses. Craig Nutt, a studio furniture maker in Kingston Springs, Tenn., who helped with the study, says there is still a common misconception that homeowner’s insurance provides coverage for art-related losses.

“With this survey, we’re really pushing the idea of business insurance. Even if you have a home-based business, the idea of having business insurance is important. Too many artists are now operating without it or operating with the assumption that their homeowner’s policy is covering their studio and they find out after a fire that it doesn’t,” Nutt says.

The study also revealed craft artists familiar with Craft Emergency Relief Fund programs are about 10 percent more likely to have taken safety and preparedness precautions than those who had not heard of the group. A quarter of the respondents said they have suffered an injury or illness that has significantly reduced their capacity to work, while nearly half said they do not have sufficient cash reserves to meet household expenses for even one month.

“The findings reveal that American craft artists are underprepared to meet an emergency, whether it’s personal, weather-related or financial. While 96 percent of all artists have some college education, many describe being hindered by a lack of business training,” Carey says.

Complete results are available at

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue.

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