New NEA report shows increasing arts attendance

The performing arts cultural season is upon us, and a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) might encourage you to head to the box office sooner than later.

Between 2012 and 2017, the share of adults who attended visual or performing arts activities grew by 3.6 percentage points to 132.3 million people, representing nearly 54 percent of the U.S. adult population. Performing arts events range from dance to theater performances while visual arts events include going to art museums, galleries, and craft festivals.

Most of the increase in this survey came from visiting art museums or galleries and the “informal” arts sector that includes outdoor performing arts festivals and touring places for their design or historic value. Also scoring high is attending “other” performing arts events—those not tracked individually in the SPPA—such as rap and hip hop, country music, rock, or folk music events.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Between 2012 and 2017, the rate of poetry-reading among adults grew by 76 percent, to 28 million people in 2017, and the share of 18-24-year-olds who read poetry more than doubled.
  • Greater participation by African Americans, Asian Americans, and 25-54-year-olds helped the performing arts numbers increase.
  • Art museum or gallery visits grew by 13% in the period studied.

Get the full report and read the study announcement on NEA.gov.


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