NASAA Notes: April 2011


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April 10, 2011

More Arts Participation Data Released by NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released three follow-up research reports based on the information collected in its 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. These reports take a deeper look at the data and address questions both old and new about arts participation.

In Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation, authors Nick Rabkin and E.C. Hedberg from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago find that having had any arts education, either during childhood or as an adult, was correlated significantly to attendance at the benchmark arts activities (jazz, classical music, opera, musical plays, nonmusical plays, ballet, visiting art museums or galleries). The report also details the troubling decline of arts education, especially among minority populations.

Gradually descending line graph of Cultural Omnivores as a Percentage of the U.S. Adult Population

Age and Arts Participation: A Case against Demographic Destiny finds that age is not a strong predictor of arts participation. Author Mark J. Stern from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that a specific type of arts participator, the “cultural omnivore,” accounted for 82% of the total decline in arts participation from 2002 to 2008. Cultural omnivores attend a large number and wide variety of arts events each year. From 2002 to 2008, both the population of this group and the number of events they attended decreased. This seems to indicate that declining arts participation is not due to the “graying” of audiences, but rather to changing patterns of arts attendance.

In Beyond Attendance: A Multi-Modal Understanding of Arts Participation, authors Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard and Alan S. Brown of WolfBrown present new definitions of arts participation that reflect the rapidly evolving ways in which people create and consume art. Under these new definitions, which include Internet-based arts activities and broadcasts and recordings, 74% of U.S. adults attended arts events, created art, or experienced art. This is more than double the 34.6% of adults who attended the benchmark activities.

For more information, visit the NEA’s Research page or NASAA’s Arts Participation pages.

Henry Clapp, Research Associate

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand

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