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Full text of "Arts participation 2008 : highlights from a national survey"

"Whatever art offered the 

men and women of previous eras, 

what it offers our own, it seems 

to me, is space — a certain 
breathing room for the spirit." 

— John Updike 



Preface 



There are many ways to measure a nation's cultural 
vitality. One way is to chart the public's involvement 
with arts events and activities over time. The NEA's 
Survey of Public Participation in the Arts remains the largest 
periodic study of arts participation in the United States, and it 
is conducted in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. The 
large number of survey respondents — similar in make-up to 
the total U.S. adult population — permits a statistical snapshot 
of America's engagement with the arts by frequency and 
activity type. The survey has taken place five times since 1982, 
allowing researchers to compare trends not only for the total 
adult population, but also for demographic subgroups. 

In any given year of the survey, however, researchers face 
a practical challenge. To what extent is arts participation 
shaped by broader social, cultural, or economic patterns — or, 
for that matter, by policies and programs affecting the arts? 
The survey is not designed to ascertain why arts participation 
levels have shifted over the years — although researchers can 
test correlations between arts activity and a host of behaviors 
and characteristics. 

The challenge is especially acute when reviewing the 2008 
results. The survey's planners, along with most of the nation, 
did not anticipate the economic downturn that began in late 
2007. When the survey was conducted in May of the following 
year, the recession (though still undeclared) had been in 
effect for nearly six months, and gas and airline prices were 
making travel costs prohibitive for many Americans. The 
survey cannot prove that weak consumer spending over this 
period directly affected arts participation rates. Yet this 
much is certain: adult attendance at arts events declined for 
virtually all art forms in 2008, compared with the prior survey 
period, 2002. 

For the 12 months ending in May 2008, more than 81 million 
Americans visited an arts museum or gallery, or attended at 



least one of the following types of arts events: theater; opera; 
ballet or other dance; or classical music, jazz, or Latin/salsa 
concerts. This group composes over 36 percent of the U.S. 
adult population, and it does not include those who visited an 
arts or crafts fair or festival, took an architectural tour, or read 
literature. Yet for most of these individual activities — literary 
reading is the single exception — participation rates have 
weakened over the past six years. 1 

Taking a long view of arts participation trends, one suspects 
that other factors besides the economic climate contributed 
to the generally lower rates of attendance. (After all, the 
recession spanned only half of the May 2007-May 2008 survey 
period.) For one thing, 18-44-year-olds are not attending 
arts events at the same rate as they did 26 years ago. As a 
group, arts participants are older than before. They also 
are increasingly older than the average adult. Nowhere is 
this trend more apparent than for jazz concert-going, which 
formerly drew a larger percentage of young adults than all 
other art forms. Arts attendance continued to decline for 
the youngest Americans in 2008, but it also dropped for 
45-54-year-olds — a group that historically has made up a 
significant share of arts audiences. 

More research is needed to understand this latest 
development — and also to learn why another group with 
traditionally higher attendance rates is now participating 
less than before. Throughout the 26-year history of the survey, 
college-educated adults have been among the most active arts 
participants. Although the same is true in 2008, they have 
markedly reduced their attendance levels since 2002 and 1982, 
even as declines have persisted for less educated groups. 



1 Fur musical theater, however, the decline in attendance from 2002 to 2008 was statistical!) insignificant 
For more analysis of the data on literarj reading, see National Endowment foi the wis.AV winuim, ti„ 
Rise. A New i'lmplcr in American I.ilcrnci/ (2009). 



\n> Participation 



Quite possibly, an explanation for the changes in attendance 
levels can be found in other parts of the survey, those dealing 
with more varied forms of arts participation. Such forms 
include arts creation and performance, arts learning, and 
participation through new media technologies. More detailed 
questions about Internet use were added only in 2008, and so 
we lack trend data to show how the relationship between arts 
and online activity has changed over time. Yet one captivating 
finding is that most adults who use the Internet to engage with 
artworks do so at least once a week. Future analyses will show 
the extent to which online participants differ from other arts 
participants, and what are some overlapping characteristics. 2 

Similarly, new questions addressing arts learning — and 
the use of community venues for arts participation — will 
shed light on the substantial role that civic and educational 
institutions play in fostering arts appreciation. Already we 
know from previous research that arts participation and 
civic engagement are measurably linked, with arts attendees 
and literary readers more than twice as likely as others 
to play sports and attend sports events, do exercise and 
outdoor activities, and volunteer in their communities. 3 We 



also know that prior education, including exposure to arts 
education, are critical factors associated with high levels of 
adult participation in the arts. Data from the 2008 survey may 
support more findings in this vein. 

For the time being, the survey poses an opportunity to 
contemplate the costs of reduced arts participation, and to 
review strategies — in arts programming and arts learning, 
in public policy and popular media — for cultivating this vital 
form of personal and social engagement. In a recession, those 
costs may be even greater than before, as entire segments 
of the U.S. population, especially young adults and less 
educated and lower-income groups, are denied life-changing 
experiences through art. Such experiences are important not 
only for producing an inspired and imaginative citizenry, 
but also for preserving and articulating our cultural heritage 
as Americans. 

Sunil Iyengar 

Director, Research & Analysis 
National Endowment for the Arts 



■' See "Conclusion," p. 10. 

' NEA, The Arts and Civic Engagement: Involved in Arts, Involved in Life (200G). 



National Endowment for the Arts 



Key Findings 



The source for the following statistics, charts, and tables is the XEA's Surrey of Public Participation in the Arts, unless 
otherwise specified. The survey was conducted most recently in May 2008. and it asked a large, nationally representative 
sample of adults (18 and above) about their participation in arts events and activities over the previous 12 months. 



ATTENDING ARTS EXHIBITS 
AND PERFORMANCES 



1) One in three adults attended 
an art museum or an arts 
performance in the 12-month 
survey period. 

• 36.2 percent of all U.S. adults— or 81.3 million 
Americans — visited an art museum or gallery 
or attended at least one type of performing 
arts event. 1 

• 22.7 percent of all adults visited an art museum 
or gallery. 

• Plays or musicals drew 20.5 percent of all 
adults. Fewer adults attended other types of 
performances: classical music or jazz (14.0 
percent of all adults): ballet or other dance 

(7.0 percent): Latin or salsa music (4.9 percent); 
and opera (2.1 percent). 



Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Attending Arts 
Events, 2008 

Millions of adults attending arts events, by type 



51.1 million 



46.1 million 



31.6 million 




10.9 million 




4.8 million 




Classical Latin, Play or Ballet or 

music or jazz Spanish, or musical other dance 

concert salsa music 



Opera 



Art museum 



In this chart, adults are counted multiple times if they participated in more than one type of arts event. 



2) Smaller percentages of adults 
attended performing arts 
events than in previous years. 

• Opera and jazz participation significantly 
decreased for the first time, with attendance 
rates falling below what they were in 1982. 2 

• Classical music attendance continued to 
decline — at a 29 percent rate since 1982 — with 
the steepest drop occurring from 2002 to 2008. 

• Only musical plays saw no statistically 
significant change in attendance since 2002. 



Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Attending Arts 
Performances: 1982-2008 t 













Change 


Rate of change 












2008 


2008 


2002- 
2008 


1982- 
2008 


Jazz 


9.6% 


10.6% 


10.8% 


7.8% 


-3.0 pp 


-1.8 pp 


-28% 


-19% 


Classical 
music 


13.0% 


12.5% 


11.6% 


9.3% 


-2.3 pp 


-3 7pp 


-20% 


-29% 


Opera 


3.0% 


3.3% 


3.2% 


2.1% 


-1-1 PP 


-0.9 pp 


-34% 


-3C 


Musical plays 


18.6% 


17.4% 


17.1% 


16.7% 


-0.4- pp 


-1.9 PP 


-2%* 


-10* 


Non-musical 
plays 


11.9% 


13.5% 


12.3% 


9.4% 


-2.9 PP 


-2.5 pp 


-24% 


-21% 


Ballet 


4.2% 


4.7% 


3.9% 


2 9 . 


-1.0 pp 


-1.3 pp 


-26% 


-31% 



pp=percentage points 

- In this brochure, all tables reporting long-term attendance trends exclude "other dance" and "Latin. Spanish. 
or salsa concerts. " Participation in these activities has been tracked, respectively, since 1992 and 2008 

' statistically insignificant 






Key Findings 



3) Attendance for the most 
popular types of arts events- 
such as museums and craft 
fairs— also declined. 

• After topping 26 percent in 1992 and 2002, 
the art museum attendance rate slipped to 23 
percent in 2008 — comparable to the 1982 level. 1 

• The proportion of U.S. adults touring parks 
or historical buildings (24.9 percent) has 
diminished by one-third since 1982. 



Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Attending Art 
Museums, Parks, and Festivals: 1982-2008 + 













Change 


Rate of change 














4^iil 


2002- 1982- 
2008 2008 


Art 

museums/ 

galleries 


22.1% 


26.7% 


26.5% 


22.7% 


-3.8 pp 


+0.6* pp 


-14% 


+3%* 


Parks/ 

historical 

buildings 


37.0% 


34.5% 


31.6% 


24.9% 


-6.7 pp 


-12.1 pp 


-21% 


-33% 


Craft/visual 
arts festivals 


39.0% 


40.7% 


33.4% 


24.5% 


-8.9 pp 


-14.5 pp 


-27% 


-37% 



pp=percentage points 

f Excludes American adults attending "performing arts festivals"— 20.8 percent in 2008— tracked for the 
first time that year. 

'statistically insignificant 



4) The declines occurred in a 
worsening economic climate, 
and as travel costs were rising. 

• At the time of the 2008 survey, the U.S. economy 
had been in recession for six months. Consumer 
spending throughout the survey period was 
weak. 4 

• Consumer spending on performing arts 
admissions tracks closely with trends in the U.S. 
economy (see adjacent chart). NEA research 
suggests that annual consumer spending on the 
performing arts will drop by 0.8 percent for every 
1 percent decline in Gross Domestic Product. 5 

• For the 2008 survey period, gas prices averaged 
$3.10 per gallon. In contrast, the average per- 
gallon price of gasoline was only $1.40 during the 
2002 survey period." 

• Literary reading — often the most affordable 
form of arts participation — increased from 
2002 to 2008. 7 



Relationship between Performing Arts Ticket Sales and 
United States GDP: 1990-2007 



o 

•D 
-O 8 




Annual total ticket sales 
as predicted by GDP trends 



j i i i i i i i i i_ 



j i i i 



1990 



1994 



1998 



2002 



2007 



Data source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis 



National Endowment for the Arts 



5) Long-term trends suggest 
fundamental shifts in the 
relationship between age and 
arts attendance. 

• Performing arts attendees are increasingly older 
than the average U.S. adult. 

• Jazz concert-goers are no longer the youngest 
group of arts participants. 

• Since 1982, young adult (18-24-year-old) 
attendance rates have declined significantly 
for jazz, classical music, ballet, and non-musical 
plays. 

• From 2002 to 2008, however, 45-54-year- 
olds — historically a large component of arts 
audiences — showed the steepest declines in 
attendance for most arts events. 



Median Age of Arts Attendees: 1982-2008 











Change in years 










2008 


2002- 1982- 
2008 2008 


U.S. adults, 
average 


39 


41 


43 


45 


+2 


+6 


Jazz 


29 


37 


42 


46 


+4 


+17 


Classical music 


40 


44 


47 


49 


+2 


+9 


Opera 


43 


44 


47 


48 


+1 


+ 5 


Musicals 


39 


42 


44 


45 


+1 


+ 6 


Non-musical 
plays 


39 


42 


44 


47 


+3 


+8 


Ballet 


37 


40 


44 


46 


+2 


+9 


Art museums 


36 


39 


44 


43 


-1 


+7 



Percentage of Adults Ages 18-24 Attending Arts Events in 
1982 and 2008 









Change 


Rate of 
change 


Jazz 


17.5% 


7.3% 


-10.2 pp 


-58% 


Classical music 


11.0% 


6.9% 


-4.1 pp 


-37% 


Opera 


2.0% 


1.2% 


-0.8* pp 


-40%* 


Musicals 


16.6% 


14.5% 


-2.1* pp 


-13%* 


Non-musical plays 


10.7% 


8.2% 


-2.5 pp 


-23 ■ 


Ballet 


3.9% 


2.5% 


-1.4 pp 


-36". 


Art museums 


22.7% 


22.9% 


+0.2* pp 


+1%* 



pp=percentage points 
'statistically insignificant 



Percentage of Adults Ages 45-54 Attending Arts Events 
in 2002 and 2008 





2002 


2008 


Change 


Rate of 
change 


Jazz 


13.9% 


9.8% 


-4.1 pp 


-30% 


Classical music 


15.2% 


10.2% 


-5.0 pp 


-33% 


Opera 


4.0% 


2.4% 


-1.6 pp 


-40% 


Musicals 


19.3% 


17.4% 


-1.9* PP 


-10%* 


Non-musical plays 


15.2% 


8.7% 


-6.5 pp 


-43% 


Ballet 


5.1% 


3.2% 


-1.9 pp 


-37% 


Art museums 


32.9% 


23.3% 


-9.6 pp 


-29% 



pp=percentage points 
'statistically insignificant 



Vrts Participation 



Key Findings 



6) Arts activity still rises with 
education level. Yet even the 
most educated Americans are 
participating less than before. 

• College-educated adults (including those with 
graduate or professional degrees) have curbed 
their attendance of events in nearly all art forms. 

• For these Americans, ballet has declined at the 
sharpest rate — down 43 percent since 1982. 

• Less educated adults have significantly reduced 
their already low levels of attendance. 8 

• Previous research has shown that education, 
which closely correlates with income levels, is a 
key predictor of arts attendance. 9 



Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Attending Arts 
Performances, by Highest Level of Education: 2008 



60% 



50% - 



40% - 



30% 



20% 



10% 





Grade 
school 



Some high High school Some Bachelor's Graduate 

school graduate college degree degree 



Percentage of College-Educated Adults 
Attending Ballet: 1982-2008 

(Bachelor's degree or higher) 




Percentage of College-Educated Adults Attending Arts Events: 1982-2008 

(Bachelor's degree or higher) 













Change 


















Jazz 


19.4% 


22.1% 


20.9% 


14.9% 


-6.0 pp 


-4.5 pp 


-29% 


-23% 


Classical music 


33.1% 


28.0% 


25.9% 


20.1% 


-5.8 pp 


-13.0 pp 


-22% 


-39% 


Opera 


8.0% 


8.0% 


7.9% 


5.2% 


-2.7 pp 


-2.8 pp 


-34% 


-35% 


Musicals 


40.5% 


32.8% 


32.6% 


32.7% 


+0.1* pp 


-7.8 pp 


<1%* 


-19% 


Non-musical 
plays 


30.2% 


28.1% 


25.5% 


19.8% 


-5.7 pp 


-10.4 pp 


-22% 


-34% 


Ballet 


11.0% 


10.1% 


9.0% 


6.3% 


-2.7 pp 


-4.7 pp 


-30% 


-43% 


Art museums 


49.2% 


51.6% 


50.5% 


44.5% 


-6.0 pp 


-4.7 pp 


-12% 


-10% 



pp=percentage points 
'statistically insignificant 



National Endowment for the Arts 



OTHER MODES OF PARTICIPATION: 
CREATING, PERFORMING, 
LISTENING, AND LEARNING 

7) Adults generally are creating 
or performing at lower rates— 
despite opportunities for 
displaying their work online. 

• Only photography increased from 1992 to 
2008 — reflecting, perhaps, greater access 
through digital media. 

• The proportion of U.S. adults doing creative 
writing has hovered around 7.0 percent. 

• The rate of classical music performance 
slipped from 1992 to 2002, then grew over 
the next six years. 

• The adult participation rate for weaving or 
sewing was almost twice as great in 1992 as 
in 2008. Yet this activity remains one of the 
most popular forms of arts creation. 



Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Performing or 
Creating Art: 1992-2008 









Change 






2002 


2008 


2002-2008 


1992-2008 


Performing: 












Jazz 


1.7% 


1.3% 


1.3% 


Opp 


-0.4* pp 


Classical music 


4.2% 


1.8% 


3.0% 


+1.2 pp 


-1.2 pp 


Opera 


1.1% 


0.7% 


0.4% 


-0.3 pp 


-0.7 pp 


Choir/chorus 


6.3% 


4.8% 


5.2% 


+0.4* pp 


-1.1 PP 


Musical plays 


3.8% 


2.4% 


0.9% 


-1.5 pp 


-2.9 pp 


Non-musical plays 


1.6% 


1.4% 


0.8% 


-0.6 pp 


-0.8 pp 


Dance 


8.1% 


4.3% 


2.1% 


-2.2 pp 


-6.0 pp 


Making: 


Painting/drawing 


9.6% 


8.6% 


9.0% 


+0.4* pp 


-0.6* pp 


Pottery/ceramics 


8.4% 


6.9% 


6.0% 


-0.9 pp 


-2.4 pp 


Weaving/sewing 


24.8% 


16.0% 


13.1% 


-2.9 pp 


-11.7 pp 


Photography 


11.6% 


11.5% 


14.7% 


+3.2 pp 


+3.1 pp 


Creative writing 


7.4% 


7.0% 


6.9% 


-0.1* pp 


-0.5* pp 



pp=percentage points 

' First year the data became available. 

' statistically insignificant 



8) Most Americans who enjoy 
artworks and performances on 
the Internet do so frequently. 

• About 70 percent of U.S. adults went online 
for any purpose, typically once a day. Of those 
adults, 39.4 percent used the Internet to view, 
listen to, download, or post artworks 

or performances. 

• Of all adults who downloaded, watched, 
or listened to music, theater, or dance 
performances online (30.1 percent), most 
did those activities at least once a week. 

• Also typically once a week, 20.2 percent of 
Internet-using adults viewed paintings, 
sculpture, or photography online. 



Percentage of Internet-Users Engaging with Art Online, 2008 



Online arts activity 


Percentage 


Millions of 


Frequency of activity 




adults (on average)* 


Views, listens to, or 
downloads music, theater, 
or dance performances 


30.1% 


47.3 


At least once a week 


Views paintings, sculpture, 
or photography 


20.2% 


31.7 


At least once a week 


Posts own artworks 
or performances** 


7.2% 


11.3 


Less than once a month 


Learns about performance 
or exhibits; purchases 
tickets 


3 34.9% 


54.8 


Less than once a month 



' 39.4 percent of Internet-using adults did one of the three shaded activities. 

' Most popular response when asked about frequency of Internet use. For questions about 

online arts participation, the response options included: "at least once a week"; "at least 

once a month but not every week"; or "less than once a month " 

"Includes design, music, photography, films, video, or creative writing. 



Aits Participation 



Key Findings 



9) AS in prior years, more Americans Percentage of U.S. Adult Population Viewing or Listening 

, to Art Broadcasts or Recordings, 2008 

view or listen to broadcasts and 0nline media induded 
recordings of arts events than 
attend them live. 

• The sole exception is live theater, which still 
attracts more adults than broadcasts or recordings 
of plays or musicals (online media included). 

• Classical music broadcasts or recordings attract 
the greatest number of adult listeners, followed 
by Latin or salsa music. 

• 33.7 million Americans listened to or watched 
programs or recordings about books. 





Percentage 


Millions of adults 


Jazz 


14.2% 


31.9 


Classical music 


17.8% 


40.0 


Latin or salsa music 


14.9% 


33.5 


Opera 


4.9% 


11.0 


Musical plays 


7.9% 


17.8 


Non-musical plays 


6.8% 


15.3 


Dance 


8.0% 


18.0 


Programs about the visual arts 


15.0% 


33.7 


Programs about books/writers 


15.0% 


33.7 



10) Schools and religious institutions 
engage many adults in live arts 
events. 

• One in four adults (23.7 percent) attended an 
elementary, middle, or high school music, theater, 
or dance performance in the previous 12 months. 

• 19.1 percent of all adults attended a live arts 
performance at a church, synagogue, or other 
religious institution. 



11) School-aged children often attend 
performances outside school, 
according to their parents. 

• One in three adults (32.8 percent) who have 
children 5-17 years of age said their child had 
attended a music, theater, or dance performance 
outside school. 

• Only 13.2 percent of parents with school-aged 
children said their child had ever taken private arts 
lessons. Of those parents, however, 63.6 percent said 
the lessons had occurred in the past year. 



National Endowment for the Arts 



Notes: 



Those events were: plays or musicals; classical music or jazz concerts; 
ballet or "other dance" performances; opera; and Latin/Spanish/salsa 
music concerts. (Elementary or high school performances were excluded.) 
Attendance at "other dance" events has been tracked only since 1992. 
In 2008, moreover, adults were asked about Latin/Spanish/salsa music 
attendance for the first time in the survey's history. If "other dance" and 
Latin music concerts are excluded from the analysis, then the proportion 
of U.S. adults that attended an art museum or gallery or a performing arts 
event becomes 34.6 percent, or about 78 million adults, compared with 
roughly 40 percent in each of the three prior survey years (1982, 1992, 
and 2002). 

The survey does not capture attendance rates for every potential type of 
music performance. Yet it does ask adults about their listening preferences. 
For example, 27.0 percent reported liking R&B or blues; 15.4 percent and 
15.2 percent of adults liked folk music and bluegrass, respectively. See 
www.arts.gov/research/SPPA/ for more data. 

Trend analysis in this brochure excludes data from the 1997 Survey of 
Public Participation in the Arts. Because of fundamental differences in 
data collection, that survey's results are not comparable with any of the 
other NEA surveys. The 1997 survey involved a random-digit-dial telephone 
survey independent of the U.S. Census Bureau. (For details, see National 
Endowment for the Arts, 1997 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts: 
Summary Report, 1999.) 

For the first time in the survey's history, smaller percentages of women 
visited art museums than in previous years. From 1982 to 2002, women 
increased their art museum attendance rate from 23.1 percent to 28.2 
percent. In 2008, their attendance rate retreated to 24.0 percent. See "Data 
and Methodology" (p. 11) for information about proxy reporting for this 
question. 

During the fourth quarter of 2007, real consumer spending grew by only 
1.0 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce (Bureau of 
Economic Analysis). For the next two consecutive quarters (January 
through June 2008), it grew by 0.9 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. 
By comparison, real consumer spending grew by an annual average of 3.0 
percent in 2006. 



5 This finding is based on a regression model that represented annual 
consumer spending on admissions to performing arts events as a 
mathematical function of annual GDP (adjusted for inflation). Symbolically, 
the model is: 

In Admissions =/[lag(ln&>a/ GDP)} 
"In" is the natural log, and "lag" refers to GDP in the previous year. 
The model was also adjusted for auto-correlated residuals. For more 
information on this regression model, please contact the NEA's Office of 
Research & Analysis. 

6 See U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Stat ist ics. "Average Price 
Data." Figures are reported for U.S. city averages and for all types of 
gasoline per gallon. 

7 From 2002 to 2008, the percentage of adults reading literature rose from 
46.7 percent to 50.2 percent. For more information, see NEA, Reading on 
the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy, 2009. 

s In 1982, for example, 7.6 percent of all adults who did not pursue formal 
education beyond high school went to a classical music concert. By 2008, 
that rate dropped to 3.1 percent. 

!) See NEA, Effects of Arts Education on Participation in the Arts, 1996, and 
Age and Arts Participation: 1982-1997, 2000. 



Arts Participation 2 «) 



Conclusion 



Between 2002 and 2008, the number and percentage of U.S. 
adults attending arts events declined for every art form except 
musical plays. In 2008, for the first time, non-musical plays, 
opera, and jazz concerts saw significantly lower rates of adult 
participation than in 1982, the first year of the survey. Alone 
among arts activities, literary reading increased in 2008. The 
adult attendance rate for art museums and galleries, while 
lower than in 1992 and 2002, was comparable to the 1982 rate. 

The 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts included 
a new question about attendance at Latin, Spanish, or salsa 
music concerts. When participation rates for this activity are 
added to the rates for other performing arts activities and for 
art museum-going, the total percentage of U.S. adults who 
attended an arts event in 2008 is 36 percent, representing 
more than 81 million Americans. 

The survey's administration in May 2008 — nearly six months 
after a nationwide recession began — raises the possibility 
that changes in consumer spending habits affected arts 
participation rates in aggregate. Additionally, visits to parks 
and historic buildings declined in 2008, which could reflect 
public response to mounting travel costs. Although NEA 



research has identified a close relationship between changes 
in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and performing arts ticket 
sales, one cannot attribute the lower attendance rates solely to 
economic conditions with any degree of certainty. 

Long-term trend analyses show an aging audience for all art 
forms. Young adults (18-24) are far less likely than before to 
attend jazz or classical music concerts, ballet, or non-musical 
plays. Other groups that formerly were dependable audiences 
for arts events have reduced their participation levels. College- 
educated Americans are attending at lower rates than in 
1982, and, in the most recent period, 45-54-year-olds curbed 
their attendance. 

More research is under way to examine these trends and also 
the respective roles of age, race or ethnicity, arts learning, and 
media/technology in arts participation. Greater knowledge of 
the interactions between arts attendance and arts creation or 
performance also may be required. Those topics will explored 
by future studies, which, along with a full summary report of 
the survey data, are envisioned for 2009 and 2010. Together, 
the findings should give arts organizations, arts educators, and 
policymakers a deeper understanding of the public they serve. 



10 National Endowment for the Arts 



Data and Methodology 



No single survey can fully capture the diverse range of arts 
activities and experiences now available to Americans. For 
a variety of art forms, however, the NEA's Survey of Public 
Participation in the Arts (SPPA) gives a reliable measure of 
self-reported levels of adult participation. 

This brochure presents key results from the 2008 SPPA. 
A more detailed examination of the survey's findings will 
be reported later in 2009. Researchers at the National 
Endowment for the Aits developed the SPPA with a team of 
statisticians, sociologists, economists, and representatives 
from various arts disciplines, and it has been conducted five 
times in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau: 1982, 
1985, 1992, 2002, and 2008. Results from the 1985 survey were 
largely similar to those in 1982, and have been excluded from 
this brochure. The 2002 and 2008 surveys were administered 
as supplements to the Census Bureau's Current Population 
Survey (CPS). 

The 2008 survey instrument, as well as tables reporting arts 
participation rates by event type and by demographic group, 
are available online at www.arts.gov/research/SPPA/. 

Although the general contents of the SPPA questionnaires 
have remained similar, the 2008 survey instrument differed 
from the 2002 version in some ways. Both surveys retain core 
questions about attendance (e.g., "Did you attend a . . . during 
the last 12 months?"), as well as sections on watching or 
listening via electronic media, and personal performance or 
creation of art. The 2008 SPPA, however, was conducted as 
a supplement to the May CPS, whereas the 2002 survey was 
conducted with the August CPS. 



Second, some sections of the 2008 questionnaire were 
separated into modules, with each respondent answering 
two of the four modules (in addition to the survey's "core" 
questions). Third, rather than attempt to interview all adults 
in the household (as in 2002), for some questions the 2008 
SPPA obtained proxy responses for spouses or partners from 
the initial adult interviewed in each household. 

In tests of this method, proxy reporting for spouse/partners 
yielded virtually identical results as self-reporting for the 
same arts activities. Yet slight differences were found for a 
few activities, suggesting a small degree of under-reporting of 
spouse/partner participation in three areas: museum-going, 
book-reading, and literary reading. Were adjustments made 
for this potential under-reporting, then the overall attendance 
rate for museums would increase by six tenths of a percentage 
point, and literary reading and book-reading rates (as 
reported in the NEA's Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter 
in American Literacy) would grow by 1.3 and 1.6 percentage 
points, respectively. 

Both the sample size and the response rate for the 2008 SPPA 
increased from that of the 2002 survey — from a 70 percent 
response rate in 2002, and just over 17,000 adults, to 82 percent 
in 2008, and more than 18,000 adults. Unless otherwise noted, 
all estimates in this report are statistically significant at 95 
percent or higher levels of confidence. 



Vrts Participation 2 11 



Produced by 

National Endowment for the Arts 
Office of Research & Analysis 
Sunil Iyengar, Director 

June 2009 

Technical analyses by Bonnie Nichols 

Staff contributors: Tom Bradshaw, Sarah Sullivan, Ellen Grantham, and Kelli Rogowski 

Editorial and publication assistance by Don Ball 

Special thanks to Tim Triplett, The Urban Institute; David Keen and Kevin Williams, 
BBC Research & Consulting; and Tom Smith, Emory University 

Designed by Fletcher Design/Washington, DC 

Cover photo: NEA Jazz Masters Frank Wess and Slide Hampton perform with the Bill Charlap 
Trio at the 2006 Savannah Music Festival. Photo by Ayano Hisa. 

This publication is available free of charge at www.arts.gov. 

National Endowment for the Arts 

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20506 
202-682-5400 

202-682-5496 Voice/TTY 

(a device for individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired) 

Individuals who do not use conventional print materials may contact the Arts Endowment's 
Office for AccessAbility at 202-682-5532 to obtain this publication in an alternate format.