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Poll shows broad public engagement with the arts

A new national public opinion poll by Americans for the Arts shows wide-ranging support for and participation in the arts among Americans.

Titled “Americans Speak Out About the Arts—An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America,” the report released this July examines the results from a December poll of more 3,000 adults about the role of arts in their lives, in their communities, and in schools.

About seven in ten respondents say they attended a cultural event in the last year, such as going to the theater, musical performance, museum or zoo. Even more respondents—nearly eight in ten—report experiencing arts in a “non-arts” venue such as at a park, school, airport, hospital, or on the street.

According to the study, Americans not only seek out the arts, but are also personally involved in artistic activities. Half of those polled say they are art makers, involved in photography, painting, playing an instrument, singing, or dancing.

The results show not only this high engagement, but overwhelming appreciation for the arts and an agreement arts institutions add value to their communities. The findings highlight this, with 87 percent of those surveyed believing the arts are “important to quality of life” and 82 percent saying arts organizations are “important to business and the economy.” The survey further indicates a consensus among Americans that the arts help to bring people together, as two thirds state believing “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity.”

The report also illustrates overwhelming support for arts education in schools and elsewhere. Nine in ten Americans say students should receive an education in the arts at all grade levels, and 82 percent believe arts education is also important outside of schools.

Overall, the findings suggest widespread involvement in the arts by the American public, echoing responses from the over 3,500 patron surveys in ArtsFund’s 2014 Economic Impact Study of Nonprofit Arts, Cultural & Scientific Organizations in the Central Puget Sound Region. As one patron quoted in the ArtsFund report said, “Arts and cultural activities allow me to learn, explore, think, dream and understand. These activities increase my quality of life, reduce stress and encourage me to engage and participate in the community.”

Both in Puget Sound and the nation as a whole, Americans report that the arts are a valued part of their lives, communities, and education.

Americans for the Arts is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing the arts. To read more about the results of the poll and to view the full report, visit Americans for the Arts’ overview here.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Art Museum, Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb. Photo by Natali Wiseman.