National Endowment for the Arts Releases Study on The Arts and Civic Engagement
Large population survey is first to find links between arts participation and community health
November 1, 2006
Washington, D.C. -- People who participate in the arts are people who help make communities thrive, according to a study released today by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study, The Arts and Civic Engagement: Involved in Arts, Involved in Life, reveals that people who participate in the arts also engage in positive civic and individual activities -- such as volunteering, going to sporting events, and outdoor activities -- at significantly higher rates than non-arts participants. The report shatters the stereotype that art is an escapist or passive activity, showing instead that it is associated with a range of positive behaviors. The study also reveals that young adults (18-34) show a declining rate of arts participation and civic activities.
The study is the first to measure the connection between arts and civic engagement, which can be defined as promoting a positive quality of life through individual and group activities. This new examination of data is based on information from the 2002 NEA Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which interviewed 17,135 adults ages 18 and older about their activities in a 12-month period. This latest report analyzes civic behaviors reported by arts participants and non-arts participants. Among the key findings:
"Healthy communities depend on active and involved citizens," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "The arts play an irreplaceable role in producing both those citizens and those communities."
The study shows that arts participants and readers lead more active lifestyles than commonly is perceived, that they contribute substantial social capital to their communities through high levels of charity works and participation in sports and outdoor activities. Further, the study demonstrates that arts participation can be seen as an indicator of civic and community health. Finally, the study reveals that young adults may be particularly susceptible to giving up both artistic and civic activities.
The NEA Research Division issues periodic research reports and briefs on significant topics affecting artists and arts organizations. The Arts and Civic Engagement report, along with the 2002 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, is available in print and electronic form in the Publications section of the NEA website.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
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