The State of the Arts

“The art of making art – is putting it together, bit by bit.” – Sunday in the Park with George

The recently released results of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts will confirm something many of us already know – engaging in the arts is simultaneously a personal and communal experience.

The data was collected from a national sample of adults ages 18 and older. They were surveyed on their participation in arts activities over the past year including attending, reading, learning, making/sharing art, and experience it through electronic media.

On the rise are people who experience art through electronic media – most popularly, listening to or viewing music. 71% reported they had done so, and this number will only continue to grow as smartphones and tablets become readily available.

Also encouraging is the number of people who attended a visual or performing arts activity – nearly half!

The recent recession plus easily accessible electronic media use surely correlates with the drop in attendance at plays and musicals, which was down by 9% since 2008 for musicals, and 12% for plays. Additionally, there was a 23% decline in museum attendance, with only 21% of adults visiting an art museum or gallery.

However, we will always be a creative nation. Notably popular forms of art and creativity are social dancing, photography, music, and reading.

The arts continue to be an important part of life as an American, and while new technology may be changing the way we view or experience them, they always will.

What does this tell us?

To pay it forward.

Arts educators, benefactors, development officers and fundraisers, and anyone else with a love of this creative facet of life, know the importance of passing it along.

As members of the arts community, we must all continue to share the pleasure and wonder of experiencing the arts with future generations – remember the first time you experienced a play, attended a concert, or went on a museum field trip?