NASAA Notes: December 2006


December issue
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December 5, 2006

Did You Know?

Arts Participation and Civic Engagement Linked in New Research

A recent report from the National Endowment for the Arts confirms that arts and civic participation work together as integral components of community life across America. The new report, based on analysis of trend data from longitudinal surveys of public arts participation and other sources, reveals that literary readers and people who frequent movies, plays and classical or jazz concerts, are more engaged in community activities than those who opt out of these art events. The report is careful to point out that its findings do not prove a causal relationship, but highlights a strong link between arts participation and engagement in several categories of civic activities.

Arts participants were nearly twice as likely as non-participants to play sports, exercise or perform outdoor activities. On average, 48.2 percent of arts participants attended sporting events and 43.8 percent participated in outdoor activities. These numbers contrasted sharply with 27.3 percent and 23.1 percent participation rates for non-arts participants, respectively.

Civic Engagement for Arts Participants and Non-Arts Participants

Arts participants also contributed to their communities through volunteering and the creation of their own art, according to the report. On average, 46.4 percent of arts participants volunteered in their communities, compared to 18.6 percent of non-arts participants. People who attended arts events were more than twice as likely as non-participants to volunteer and more than three times as likely to create their own art. Only 12.4 percent of those who did not attend arts events created their own photographs, paintings and writings, compared to 36 percent of arts-participants.

The report also raises questions about the future through a focus on young adult participation. It uncovered a twenty year decline in young adult participation in both arts events and community activities. Young adults were less likely to attend performing arts events across the board, with the exception of operas that held participation rates at around 2 percent. Jazz concerts saw the largest decline in young adult participation, down 5.1 percentage points in the period between 1982 and 2002. This decline coincided with a 15.9 percentage point decline in literacy rates from 1982 to 2002, as young adults jumped from the most literate adult age group. On average, only 43 percent of young adults participated in sports events or physical activities in 2002, down nearly 20 percentage points from 1982. Volunteerism also declined slightly among young adults in 2002.

Arts Participation and Civic Engagement Declines among Young Adults (Ages 18-34)
1982 2002 Percentage
Percent who attended:
Jazz concert 15.7% 10.6% -5.10
Classical Concert 12.2% 8.5% -3.70
Opera 2.4% 2.6% 0.20
Musical 18.5% 15.1% -3.40
Play 11.5% 10.9% -0.60
Ballet 4.4% 3.1% -1.30
Percent who read 61.1% 45.2% -15.90
Percent who:
Attended sporting event 62.3% 43.2% -19.10
Played sports 59.7% 43.2% -16.50
Did outdoor activities 49.5% 38.0% -11.50
Percent who volunteered 26.1% 25.2% -0.90

Source: “The Arts and Civic Engagement: Involved in Arts, Involved in Life” National Endowment for the Arts, November 2006. Available from

In this Issue

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Did You Know?

Frequently Asked Questions




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