Artist Career Stage Definitions

These are general definitions for the purpose of the CMA & LDF’s programs. Artists may find that more than one category applies to their art. There are many variations on the definition of these terms, and arts funders often have specific requirements for artists to apply for funding in specific categories. Make sure to check other organizations’ definitions when applying to their programs. If you would like further clarification on how the CMA/LDF defines these categories, please contact us.

Community, Amateur, or Hobby Artist

A dance participant of any age or experience who trains, performs or creates without the intention of making a living as an artist.

Pre-professional Artist

An artist who is training intensively with the goal of making a living as an artist. They may have experience performing and creating, but are not yet making money from their art.

Professional Artist

An artist who has specialized training in the artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions), has a history of public performance/presentation, and is recognized as a professional by his or her artistic peers. A professional artist is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially, and actively seeks payment for their art. 

Professional artists are divided into categories based on their career stage. These stages have more to do with experience than with age. 

Emerging/New Generation Artist*

An artist who has specialized training in their field (not necessarily gained in an academic institution), who is at the beginning of their career. Artists in this stage develop their talents, continue training, and start to get local notice. The term “emerging” is often used for artists who are young and attending or recently graduated from a post-secondary institution, but can also apply to someone who’s made a career change or recently decided to prioritize their art above everything else. 

*The CMA/LDF includes high school students with performance and creation experience in the Emerging category, which is a broader definition than that used by most arts funders. 

Mid-career Artist

An artist who has created a following for their work over a number of years and who has received regional or national recognition through public performance/presentation of their work. Mid-career artists have a growing resume and continue gaining experience performing and/or creating. Artists in this stage often make money from their art, even if it is not their full-time job.

Established Artist

An artist who is at a mature stage in his or her career. Established artists have a strong following, and a résumé full of accomplishments. Artists in this stage usually make money from their art, whether performing, choreographing or teaching.
*The CMA/LDF includes Retired professionals in this category as well.