2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

From Arts Research Monitor, August 2010.

Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts (USA) has conducted a benchmark survey of Americans’ involvement in arts activities. In keeping with the theme of this issue of the Arts Research Monitor, the survey’s findings regarding arts learning are summarized here.

Respondents were asked whether they had taken an arts lesson or class at any time in their lives, including classes in school or private lessons. While the “lifetime participation rates” of all respondents decreased somewhat between 1982 and 2008, there was a substantial decrease in most arts learning activities among 18 to 24-year-olds:

  • Music (voice or instrument): In the 2008 survey, 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported taking music lessons at some point in their lives, compared with 61% in 1982.

  • Visual arts: In 2008, 21% of young adults reported taking visual arts lessons at some point in their lives, compared with 41% in 1982.

  • Art appreciation or history: In 2008, 16% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported taking art appreciation / history courses at some point in their lives, compared with 31% in 1982.

  • Music appreciation: In 2008, 14% of young adults reported taking music appreciation courses at some point in their lives, compared with 31% in 1982.

  • Acting: In the 2008 survey, 9% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported taking acting lessons at some point in their lives, compared with 15% in 1982.

The only area to experience an increase was creative writing: the percentage of young adults taking creative writing classes increased from 18% in 1982 to 22% in 2008.

Very few respondents had taken arts lessons or classes in the 12 months prior to the 2008 survey. Two percent had taken a visual arts lesson or class. About 1.3% took a lesson or class in each of music, creative writing, dance, or art appreciation. Less than 1% of respondents had taken either a music appreciation class or an acting or theatre lesson.

Respondents with children between 5 and 17 years of age were asked whether their children took art lessons or attended live performances. “About 8 percent of parents reported sending their children to arts lessons, while one-third of parents reported that their children attended live performances in 2008. Children of parents with more formal education and higher incomes had higher rates of participation in arts lessons and performances.”

Link to report, National Endowments for the arts research report #49

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *