National Endowment for the Arts Announces Highlights from 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts
Long-term patterns of decline and new data on media use noted in national survey
June 15, 2009
Washington, D.C. -- American audiences for the arts are getting older, and their numbers are declining, according to new research released today by the National Endowment for the Arts. Arts Participation 2008: Highlights from a National Survey features top findings from the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the nation's largest and most representative periodic study of adult participation in arts events and activities, conducted by the NEA in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. Five times since 1982, the survey has asked U.S. adults 18 and older about their patterns of arts participation over a 12-month period. The 2008 survey reveals dwindling audiences for many art forms, but it also captures new data on Internet use and other forms of arts participation.
Arts Participation 2008: Highlights from a National Survey brochure can be ordered or downloaded from the NEA Web site.
Although the 2008 recession likely affected survey responses, long-term trend analysis shows that other factors also may have contributed to lower arts participation rates. More detailed study results will be available later this year.
"Clearly, there is interest in better understanding of the American public's engagement in many art forms," said Acting Chairman Patrice Walker Powell. "The NEA survey will offer valuable data to both researchers and cultural arts organizations about national trends that may help shape arts programming and address the evolving habits of audiences."
Among the findings:
There are persistent patterns of decline in participation for most art forms. Nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults – or an estimated 78 million – attended an art museum or an arts performance in the 2008 survey period, compared with about 40 percent in 1982, 1992, and 2002. i ii
Aging audiences are a long-term trend. Performing arts attendees are increasingly older than the average U.S. adult (45). The aging of the baby boom generation does not appear to account for the overall increase in age.
Educated Americans are participating less than before, and educated audiences are the most likely to attend or participate in the arts.
The Internet and mass media are reaching substantial audiences for the arts.
The 2008 survey was the NEA's first attempt to measure attendance at performing arts festivals, use of community venues, and attendance at Latin/Spanish/salsa concerts. This fall, the NEA will release a full summary report of survey findings, including regional data on arts participation. In the next year, the NEA will release more topic-specific reports on the roles of age, race and ethnicity, arts learning, Internet use, and arts creation and performance. In advance of those reports, the NEA is making raw data and detailed statistical tables available to researchers and the public. The tables highlight demographic factors affecting adult participation in a variety of art forms. Another table ranking types of music preferred by adults is also included. The entire survey questionnaire and the raw data and user's guide are available both on the NEA website and on CPANDA, Princeton University's Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive.
Please see the statistical tables, user's guide, and other supplementary materials described above.
The NEA is the only federal agency to conduct long-term and detailed analyses of arts participation.
For more than 30 years, the NEA Office of Research & Analysis has produced periodic research reports, brochures, and notes on significant topics affecting artists and arts organizations, often in partnership with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau. Arts Participation 2008 and other NEA research are available in print and electronic form in the Research section of the NEA website, www.arts.gov/research/.
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
i. For the purpose of consistency, this comparison of 2008 to previous years excludes Latin/Spanish/Salsa concert attendance rates.
ii. Results from 1985 survey were largely similar to those in 1982 and have been excluded from the report.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency