Arts and Crafts Economy / Young Professionals and Entrepreneurship

Survey of West Virginia Artists Highlights Growth of Online Sales

Photo by Tamarack Foundation for the Arts

Photo by Tamarack Foundation for the Arts

The Tamarack Foundation survey was the first research of its kind examining the assets and challenges of running a creative business in West Virginia.

A survey of professional artists and craftspeople in West Virginia has found that 89 percent sell some or all of their products online.

In the fall of 2015, the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts conducted a study of 500 artist-owned businesses in West Virginia.

In addition to online sales, 55 percent of respondents reporting selling their goods and fairs and festivals.

Other findings:

  • 1 out of 3 entrepreneurs make their living primarily from their creative business
  • 10 percent of entrepreneurs employ part or full- time employees
  • 20 percent of entrepreneurs make more than $15,000 annually through their business
  • 80% of entrepreneurs have healthcare coverage
  • 51% of entrepreneurs have a retirement savings plan
  • 80% of entrepreneurs are somewhat or very concerned that they will not have enough money to cover living expenses as they age or retire

The Tamarack Foundation survey was the first research of its kind examining the assets and challenges of running a creative business in West Virginia.

“The data we uncovered is both encouraging and thought-provoking,” wrote Tamarack Foundation Executive Director Alissa Novoselick in her summary of the research. “It reflects nationwide business trends and also showcases West Virginia’s unique economic challenges.”

Novoselick references the ability to access new markets and the lack of access to high-speed internet as current concerns of creative entrepreneurs.

“We must learn and replicate the successes of places like Detroit—a city that used art as a key driver to reimagine and redefine itself after bankruptcy,” she wrote.

Woodworkers have the highest average sales at $25,476 per year.

A 2015 study by six state arts and crafts organizations and the Small Business Development Division of the West Virginia Development Office found that the annual household income derived from craft-related activities was reported to be $13,114. This income provides, on average, 27.5 percent of the total household income.

That study found that woodworkers have the highest average sales at $25,476 per year, followed by artists and craftspeople working in paper ($24,263), leather ($23,500) and fiber/textiles ($22,224).

Who To Talk To:

Tamarack Foundation For The Arts
Email: Executive Director Alissa Novoselick

 

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