Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NEA Report is a Call to Action

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a troubling report Arts Participation 2008: Highlights from a National Survey. The NEA says, "there are persistent patterns of decline in participation for most art forms."
  • double digit declines in audience attendance of classical music, jazz, opera, ballet, musical theater, and dramatic plays
  • declines in art museum attendance
  • ballet attendance by well educated Americans down 43%
  • audiences are aging (average age at a jazz concert in 1982 was 29, in 2007 it is 46
  • adults with less education (historically low rates of arts attendance) have seen further decreases
  • fewer adults are creating their own art

You can download the report or read a synopsis at http://www.arts.gov/news/news09/SPPA-highlights.html.

This data presents us with a couple of challenges. First, and most obvious for an Arts Center, we must continue to present and produce creative and popular art for our diverse audiences. Even as audience attendance dips we must keep the torch burning. Secondly, as a village and as a nation we must recommit ourselves to arts education. Ashamedly, on our watch primary and secondary arts education has been pushed to the back of the bus in a quest for higher reading, writing, and math scores. We have forgotten that creativity and imagination put men on moon and invented the i-pod and that arts participation is the best way to spark a young person's creativity.

So look at the numbers and decide what kind of nation you want to live in.

My favorite JFK quote and one that is inscribed on the wall of the Performing Arts Center that bears his name reads, "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

be well


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