NEA survey shows that the arts have it bad, but sports and movies have it worse


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If misery loves company, then arts folk dismayed by a recent NEA survey showing audiences dwindling in almost every genre needn’t feel quite so bad.

Delve more deeply into the study of Americans 18 and older, and you find that moviegoing and sports attendance have fared much worse than the arts.


Culled from questioning that the U.S. Census Bureau conducted for the NEA in May 2008 (before the financial meltdown), the results show that the share of the adult public attending at least one museum exhibition, play, jazz performance, classical concert, opera or dance event fell 4.4% from 1982 to 2008.

The comparable figure for the movies was a decline of nearly 10%, and for sporting events a loss of 17%.

“I don’t know if misery loves company, but it’s comforting to know it’s not just you,” says Andrew Taylor, director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Experts say that when it comes to getting people to go out and buy a ticket, a rising tide of unprecedented competition from technologically driven home entertainment alternatives is helping to sink all boats. But the arts don’t have the financial backstop film studios and sports leagues get when they reap huge sums from the sale of broadcast rights and home video. And don’t even ask what the bleak survey results on arts education portend for the future.

For the full story, click here.-- Mike Boehm



NEA report shows declining attendance in arts events nationwide