NEA report: Attendance at theater, musicals drops

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NEA report: Attendance at theater, musicals drops

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 27, 2013

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 27, 2013

The National Endowment for the Arts just released its latest survey of art participation.

And according to the findings, attendance at theater and musical has dropped the most dramatically of any of the arts disciplines considerd in the report.

The report, entitled “Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” found that across arts disciplines, one out of every three Americans — about 78 million people — visited an art exhibition or attended a performing arts event in 2012.

That number is down slightly from the last NEA survey in 2008 when 34.6% of Americans reported attending at least one arts event.

Since the NEA began conducting its semi-regular survey of arts attendance in 1982, the highest level of overall participation came in 1992 when 41% of Americans attended an arts event.

The steepest decline in arts attendance in the last four years comes for non-musical plays which have dropped by 12% between 2008 and 2012 and by 33% in the last decade. Also attendance for musicals was off 9% from 2008 to 2012.

However for classical music, opera and ballet attendance held basically steady between between 2008 and 2012.

And as in the past, more Americans went to a visual arts event or institution than any type of arts events except movies. Nearly half of the nation’s adults — 49 percent or 115 million — attended at least one type of visual or performing arts activity.

Of course, the comparative figures noted in the NEA report coincides with what many are now calling the Great Recession, the period between 2008 to 2012 of world-wide economic decline from which much of the world economy still has not recovered.

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