NEA Report: Fewer performing arts attendees, but growing online participation

Posted on: December 10, 2009

“If you haven’t gone to a movie, jazz concert or an art exhibit in recent years, you are in steadily growing company,” writes Hillel Italie in article on Thursday’s (12/10) Associated Press. “A new study from the National Endowment for the Arts finds a notable decline in theater, museum and concert attendance and other ‘benchmark’ cultural activities between 2002 and 2008 for adults 18 and older, and a sharper fall from 25 years ago. The drop was for virtually all art forms and for virtually all age groups and levels of education. … Released Thursday, the NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts is the sixth such report to come out since 1982, when 39 percent of adults attended a ‘benchmark arts activity’ at least once in the previous year. The percentage peaked at 41 percent in 1992, just as the Internet was taking off, and dropped to 34.6 percent in 2008. … Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, was concerned by the attendance numbers but encouraged by the substantial number of adults, estimated by the NEA at around 40 million, who watched or listened to classical music through electronic media, including online. ‘There is a fundamental change happening in our lives. There’s a sense that we have an old way of defining participating in the arts and that the public is redefining what participation means,’ Rosen said. ‘The challenge for us is to see where the public is and engage with them and adapt.’ ” Rosen is a featured respondent for the performing arts during the live webcast of the NEA’s roundtable discussion of its survey, which is streaming at nea.gov today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST. The video will be available on the website after the event as well.

Posted December 10, 2009