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A New Study Has Found One Of The Most Underpaid Professions

Australian artists earn about a fifth less than most other workers and many have to take on other jobs to help make ends meet, a study shows.

The average total annual income for professional artists in Australia is 21 per cent lower than the average pay packet, the study by Macquarie University and the Australia Council found.

The income artists receive from their creative work has also fallen 19 per cent below what they were paid in 2009.

And almost eight in 10 artists are taking on other work, mostly out of necessity rather than choice.

Australia Council chief executive Tony Grybowski said the findings highlight the challenges artists face to maintain a viable professional career.

"If we want Australian stories to keep being told and Australia's diverse artistic talent to succeed locally and internationally we must consider the support structures, protections and remuneration of Australian artists," he said on Monday.

The study also found female artists earn a quarter less than men overall and are paid about 30 per cent less for their creative work.

The disparity for artists with a disability is even greater.

Those with a disability earn 42 per cent less overall than artists without disability.

The Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia was carried out by cultural economist David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya, who surveyed almost 1000 Australian professional artists.

Prof Throsby said too often artists were expected to work "for love not money".

The digital world also presented both opportunities and challenges for artists, by offering new ways to distribute their work but also opening up the door to unauthorised exploitation of their ideas. 

AAP

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