NEA Announces New Report on How Americans Use Electronic Media to Participate in the Arts

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, (www.nea.gov), June 25, 2010

When compared with non-media participants, Americans who participate in the arts through technology and electronic media – using the Internet, television, radio, computers, and handheld devices – are nearly three times more likely to attend live arts events; attend twice as many live arts events; and attend a greater variety of genres of live arts events, according to a report released today by the National Endowment for the Arts and available at http://www.arts.gov.

Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation looks at who is participating in the arts through electronic media, what factors affect their participation, and the relationship between media-based arts activities, live attendance, and personal arts creation. The findings in Audience 2.0 are intended to help arts organizations better understand their audiences’ uses of technology and electronic media.

“We are faced with the Internet, social media, and other new technologies, and I believe the arts field must embrace them and integrate them into our work.” said Chairman Landesman in a video greeting that posts today on the NEA website.

Audience 2.0 stems from the NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). Conducted in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the survey isthe nation’s largest, most representative study of arts participation among American adults.

Since 1982, the SPPA has measured American adult participation in activities such as attendance at jazz, classical music, opera, musical plays, non-musical plays, and ballet performances, and visits to art museums or galleries. The SPPA categorizes these as “benchmark” activities, providing a standard group of arts activities for more than two decades of consistent trend analysis. Audience 2.0 takes a closer look at how audiences use electronic media to engage in these benchmark activities.

Among the findings in Audience 2.0:

  • People who participate in the arts through electronic media are nearly three times as likely to attend live benchmark arts events as non-media participants (59 percent versus 21 percent). In addition, they attend twice as many arts events on average (6 events versus 3 events in one year) and in a greater variety of live art forms. Media-based arts participation appears to encourage — rather than replace — live arts attendance.
  • Education continues to be the best predictor of arts participation among adults – both for live attendance and through electronic media. Survey respondents with at least some college education were more likely than respondents with a grade school education to have used electronic media to participate in the arts.
  • For many Americans — primarily older Americans, lower income, and racial/ethnic minority groups — electronic media is the only way they participate in benchmark arts events.
  • The 15.4 percent of U.S. adults who use media only to engage with the arts are equally likely to be urban or rural.
  • Twenty-one percent (47 million) of all U.S. adults reported using the Internet to view music, theater, or dance performances in the last 12 months. Twenty-four percent (55 million) obtained information about the arts online.

In another first for the agency, the Audience 2.0 report is being released only in an electronic format that includes multimedia features. Chairman Landesman’s video greeting will be accompanied by a video commentary on the report from Sunil Iyengar, NEA Director of Research & Analysis. Additionally, each chapter will open with videos from arts organizations that represent each of the benchmark disciplines tracked by the report.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.  For more information, please visit http://www.arts.gov.

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