New Report Highlights LA County Nonprofit Arts Salaries

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 1:00pm

Salary report imageNonprofit arts organizations in Los Angeles County are a vibrant part of the region’s cultural offerings, but a new report published by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission shows these organizations are also significant regional employers, providing nearly $267 million in full time equivalent salaries to 4,650 workers.

Using data self-reported to the California Cultural Data Project (CDP), a system used by arts and culture grantmakers to quantify the operations and impact of arts and culture organizations in the state.  Grantees of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission are required to report data to the CDP as a condition of their funding.  Although this doesn’t represent all of the 2,852 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the county, the report states this first iteration is a great jumping off point for further study, discussion, and evaluation of the impact of the nonprofit arts sector in the region.

That said, the findings of the report featured promising news.  Data from CDP showed the average full time equivalent salary was $57,345 in 2011, up from $51,046 in 2007.  While only about half of the organizations from LA County participating in the CDP (190) have paid staff, their salaries represent $266.6 million dollars.

Along with this finding, the study isolates the median average salary by nonprofit arts staff type.  General staff, who are “not specifically associated with a particular program or fundraising activity but which are necessary to the organization’s…existence,” are the lowest earners with a median average salary of $31,100.  Program staff have the highest median average salary at $49,451.  Artists working with nonprofit arts organizations came in at $36,384 and fundraising staff pulled in $42,200.  

When it comes to nonprofits and salaries, size matters.  The report found only 10.6% of organizations with annual expenses below $55,000 had paid staff, while almost all of the county’s largest organizations did.  It’s no surprise, then, these large organizations also do pay the highest salaries to their employees, perhaps reflective of the staff’s scope of work, expertise, and education.

The report includes several graphs that help make relationships among the data more clear.  You can download and read the full report as a PDF by visiting the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s website at