Wyoming Arts Council

Arts participation topic of NEA gathering

This comes from a Dec. 10 press release from the National Endowment for the Arts:

Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa convened a roundtable discussion with national arts service organizations, regional arts organizations, and NEA staff to discuss the NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the nation’s largest and most representative study of adults’ arts participation habits.

Representatives from 40 service organizations participated in the convening, including the Association of Art Museum Directors, Dance/USA, the Future of Music Coalition, the National Association of Latino Art and Culture, the National Center for Creativity in Aging, the National Network for Folk Arts in Education, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the United States Census Bureau and asked more than 18,000 people 18 years of age and older about their frequency of arts engagement. It has been conducted five times since 1982.

Among the findings that were discussed:
Audiences for ballet, classical music, jazz, and theatre are both declining and growing older — Nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults – or an estimated 78 million – attended an arts performance in the 2008 survey period, compared with about 40 percent in 1982, 1992, and 2002.
Performing arts attendees are increasingly older (between 46 and 49 years old) than the average U.S. adult (45 years old) — Forty-five to 54-year-olds – historically dependable arts participants – declined for all art forms except musical theatre.
People with higher levels of education have curtailed their participation in nearly all art forms since 1982 — High school graduates had the steepest rate of decline – 25 percent – between 2002 and 2008.
Americans are increasingly participating in the arts through new media — The Internet and broadcast media are popular ways to engage with the arts. Forty seven million adults downloaded, watched, or listened to music, theater or dance performances online – and most said they did so at least once a week. More Americans view or listen to broadcasts and recordings of arts events than attend them live (live theater being the sole exception).
Photography/videography/film-making increased in popularity as art-making activities, from 12 percent to 15 percent, since 1992, supplanting weaving/sewing as the most popular creative activity reported.
Generation Y reports taking fewer arts classes/lessons — When people ages 18-24 were asked if they had taken an art class/lesson at some point in their lives, they reported lower rates of participation than previous generations for all art forms compared in this study (by 6-23 percentage points, depending on the art form, from 1982 to 2008).
Different demographic groups described different cultural preferences — African Americans are almost twice as likely to sing in a choir or other vocal group as adults in general. Almost 11 million adults attended a live Latin, Spanish, or salsa music performance in the previous 12 months. Audiences for these performances were younger and less affluent than audiences for other art forms. The 2008 survey was the NEA’s first attempt to measure attendance at Latin/Spanish/salsa concerts.
Arts participation correlates with higher civic participation — People who participate in the arts are 2 to 3 times as likely to engage in positive civic and individual activities – such as volunteering, attending sporting events, and participating in outdoor activities – than non-arts participants.
Participation in most leisure activities (except volunteering and charity work) among all adults declined from 2002 to 2008 — The average time spent watching television (about three hours daily) has not changed significantly since 1982.
Regional differences in arts participation — New England and Pacific region residents had some of the highest rates of attendance (42 percent of adults in each region) for the arts activities traditionally measured in the survey. In personal performance or creation of art, the Plains states of Kansas and Nebraska have some of the highest participation rates nationwide. Twenty percent of adults in Kansas said they played a musical instrument. In Nebraska, that rate was nearly 18 percent. Nationwide, 13 percent – or 29 million Americans – reported playing a musical instrument.

FMI: www.arts.gov.

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