According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average change for all occupations is projected to be an 11 percent increase from 2012 to 2022.
However, they expect a 1 percent decrease in professional artists.
The Traction Company hopes to be an exception to this less-than-optimistic job outlook.
“We’re trying to create a stable hub for art making,” resident artist Miguel Horn said. “[The Traction Company] is our place to come to make whatever comes to our mind.”
The Traction Company took its name from a trolley manufacturing company that was housed in the same building in the 1800s. With such an old building, regular upkeep is necessary. Each of the 14 resident artists are expected to come together on Fridays to help with the upkeep of the building and in return they receive a subsidized rent. According to the BLS, artists are in the 18th percentile for median hourly wage for all occupations, making this deal worth it for the Traction Company artists.
“[On Fridays] most of us have shop duties that we maintain and take care of every week,” said Sedakial Gebremedhin, who has been with The Traction Company for three years. “If the roof is leaking we jump in and take care of it. We all have different sets of skills and it kind of comes handy in a place like this.”
Members of The Traction Company are currently working on three different collaborations that will be on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, from where the artists are all alumni. The show will run from July 1 to Oct. 11.
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– Text, images and video by Andrew Vlasak.