NEA releases survey of how adults in America interact with the arts

NEA releases survey of how adults in America interact with the arts
Guests entering the MoMA. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
Leading lights  -   Experts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a government supported entity in the US that helps support the arts across the country. In partnership with the US Census Bureau, they create the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA), which shows just how involved Americans are in the arts, offering a snapshot of the art world. Just a few days ago, the NEA released its most recent report, based on the data provided by the 2017 SPPA, and it found that more adults in the US are using electronic resources to experience art and interest in poetry is on the rise, among other notable changes.

According to the report, 175 million people (ages 18 and up) in the US use electronics to engage with the arts. That accounts for 74 percent of the adult population and of that, younger adults have a higher tendency to use electronic means to engage with various kinds of art, than older adults. Additionally, there was a correlation between those with a higher education level and a tendency to use electronic means to access the arts.

Over the course of that year, 54 percent of people (approximately 133 million adults) over the age of 18 attended cultural or artistic events and of them, half went to at least two, if not more. This statistic could be particularly exciting for those headed to a museum or a concert, given that last month, the British Medical Journal featured a study that found a correlation between attending cultural events and a longer life. Producing some of the art US Americans are heading out to see could have been some of the 54 percent of adults who also engage in creating art of some kind. Though their creativity unites them, their reasons for doing so differ; some anticipate presenting the works to the public while others make art for their own personal enjoyment. For those headed to an arts event, 62 percent of them did so to spend more time with their families. Of those making art, 61 percent of them state that they made art because they ‘felt “creative or creatively inspired.”’

With the analysis of the 2017 data, the NEA found some significant changes from the data acquired by the SPPA five years prior. In 2012, just over half of America’s adults (50.2 percent) attended at least one arts event. According to the most recent data, that percentage increased by nearly four percentage points with a total of 132.3 million adults having done so in 2017. Of those who attended arts events, 39 percent of adults went to see the visual arts, like going to a museum or an exhibition, for instance. In 2017, that increased to 42.3 percent, representing 102.5 million people. Another interesting find is that adults reading poetry has increased from 6.7 percent to 11.7 percent, with the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who are reading poetry having doubled.

The SPPA does not give a complete understanding of American adults and it is limited to just the US, however, it sheds light on the ways in which people interact with the art world and the role it plays in life. It signifies how much people genuinely care about some form of art, whether it’s a painting by a new contemporary artist or a local jazz musician. Read the full report here.