I am going to graduate from Art School in about a year. Right now I do some independent contracting as a Graphic Artist and I do a few commissioned works, but that does not do much beyond covering some of my living expenses. I still have a job working about 25 to 30 hours per week in a local restaurant as a waiter. Of course I also help out in other ways. My big worry is about what I shall do when I graduate. I will likely get a job as a chicago art teacher for the short term, unless I can find some alternative where I can actually get paid to sculpt or paint. I am pretty good at both of those things, but I need a lot of work before I could really hope to earn a decent living at it. I know that I can get a teaching degree, but I am not really sure that I shall be able to easily find a teaching job.
Obviously when the economy is bad the states have less income from taxing economic activity. That in turn means they have less money for essential services and for Education. Art education is an easy target. People will vote for roads and things like police way ahead of Art. You do not really need art unless it is something which you are passionate about. I really enjoy art and I hope to earn a living doing it, but if there are not any teaching jobs open I am not really sure if it is going to work out. I have literally sold my art on the streets a few times and earned a little bit of money doing it, but when you do the math it just does not work out to a living wage.