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NEA Releases Data from Latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

Thursday, September 13, 2018   (0 Comments)

New survey findings from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) show gains in arts attendance totals, rates, and demographic groups plus sizeable growth in poetry-reading. Published on September 12, 2018, U.S. Trends in Arts Attendance and Literary Reading: 2002-2017 is a first look at results from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). A partnership of the NEA and the U.S. Census Bureau, the SPPA is the nation’s largest and longest-running survey of how millions of adults participate in the arts. 

“The growth in arts attendance indicates the increasing value of the arts in the everyday lives of Americans,” said Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “From poetry reading to visiting a museum or attending a jazz performance, the arts are not only part of our lives, but also assets in our communities and fuel for our nation’s economy.” 

The result reveals on the performing arts that 106.8 million people attended in 2017, up 3.2 percentage points from 2012. For most art forms on the survey, including musicals and non-musical plays, classical music, jazz, ballet and other dance performances, opera, and Latin/Spanish/salsa music, attendance rates held steady despite a five percent growth in the adult population over the five-year period. Therefore, the number of adults attending those events increased over the time period studied. 

The top three forms of arts attendance in the performing arts are:

  • Outdoor performing arts festivals: 58.5 million people
  • Musicals: 40.2 million people
  • Other performing arts events referenced above: 36.4 million people
  • In another demographic gain, a 29 percent increase in the rate of attendance at these types of activities is reflected in greater participation by demographic subgroups—specifically, African Americans, Asian Americans, and 25-54-year-olds.

Download the survey summary on NEA's website.