The MARProject survey closed April 15 and the partners in this program (Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Ontario Chapter (CADA-ON), CARFAC Ontario, Canadian Music Centre – Ontario Region, Dance Ontario and Ontario Crafts Council) have since met and set the course for the immediate future, which is to seek funding support to develop the business plan.

The full report on this project, featuring survey results, will be posted by late May. In the meantime, here are a few survey highlights from the demographic and credit sections of the report.

152 artists responded to the survey and while the number responding to each question varied due to internal skip logic and individual choices, 129 completed the survey. 68.5% of respondents were female. The age group with the highest response rate (31.1%) was 50-65 followed by 40-49 (21.6%).

50.3% of respondents live in Toronto. The next largest group (8.2%) lived in a Central Ontario town or rural area outside of Peterborough (Bruce, Grey, Dufferin, Simcoe, Kawartha, Muskoka, Haliburton) and with the addition of Peterborough this group reaches 9.6% of respondents. Both Ottawa and Southcentral Ontario (Durham, Halton, Peel and York) each had 6.1% respondent participation. Niagara Region followed with 5.4%.

The chart shows income levels of the artist respondents. 60.1% reported 2011 income under $25,000, many significantly under.

92.2% of respondents had unsecured credit cards. Of the 132 artists who answered the question, “Have you ever applied for a loan for any purpose?, 95 (72%) answered yes. Only 97 artists answered the question, “Was your most recent loan application successful?” and 79 (81.4%) replied yes.

70% of respondents have used a credit card to finance their art production. 75 artists provided commentary on how this worked out for them. 60% of these described their experience using credit cards as positive, allowing them to pay for raw materials, equipment purchases and rentals, workshops, studio rent, shipping costs, rehearsal space, and show entry fees either as bridge financing or because credit cards were the required form of payment. Many of the positive comments mentioned secure means of meeting payments through sales, other employment or spousal support.

Comments from those for whom the use of credit cards did not work well for them included that credit cards made required purchases possible but meant years of paying off debt. One said, “It’s as if I was paying Visa to make my work.” One respondent recounted history including credit card use for art creation and travel in combination with a line of credit for a Masters degree that led to bankruptcy and abandoning artistic practice, at least temporarily. Many respondents spoke of stress.

Of the 117 artists who responded about financing art projects through loans or lines of credit, 53.8% have never considered applying in order to finance art production. 19.7% applied for a loan or line of credit and got it. 17.9% wanted to apply but didn’t and 57% of those replied that they did not because they were intimidated by the responsibility of debt. Of the 8.5% who were refused loans or lines of credit, the major reasons were too much debt in ratio to income or too little income although they didn’t have debt. 56.3% of the artists were able to find another way to carry out their art project which of course leaves 43.8% who were not.

In the next post, I will address other survey responses and how they point to the way forward.