Live theater ranks among 10 worst industries for 2013

liberal_artsBy John Moore
Jan. 9, 2013

As Stephen Sondheim might say, “Isn’t it rich?”

When it comes to a life in the arts, no. When it comes to irony, well, very much so.

A pair of independent and anachronistic new studies similarly point out just how tough a life in the arts continues to be.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has determined that the arts and humanities constitutes the fourth most demanding area of study for college students today. (Please hold the tired old liberal arts jokes. Anyone who has actually undertaken a humanities degree can attest to the merit of the claim.) Survey  says:

Crave a little more creativity in your major? Then you’ll likely want to check out the halls of the arts and humanities departments. And while you might not burn as much midnight oil to prepare for classes as those in engineering or physical sciences, you’ll still study more than the average student. But it’s what you’ll study that is very different. Arts and humanities students usually learn everything from philosophy to languages to literature, according to the College Board. And courses could include more artful fare, such as music and drama.

And yet, wouldn’tcha know, the industry-research firm IBISWorld now ranks live performance theater as No. 8 on its list of the 10 industries that are expected to shrink the most in 2013. That’s No. 8 among more than 1,000 industries surveyed in terms of percentage of jobs most likely to be gained or lost over the next 12 months. IBISWorld estimates live theater will undergo a 5 percent retraction in 2013, with the caveat:

“The show might go on, but with cutbacks in government funding and penny-pinching theatergoers, there’s less money for everything, from cast and crew to props and promotional fliers.”

The academic study was intended to help students decide which major might best fit their lifestyle.  It surveyed 416,000 full-time, first-year students and seniors attending 673 colleges and universities during 2011.

So in conclusion … If you want a life in theater, prepare to work your butt off so that you can graduate into a diminishing field with ever-shrinking employment opportunities.

But things could be worse. If you’re me.  The newspaper industry ranks even higher — No. 5 — on the list of 10 worst for 2013.