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Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation. Based on the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. Research Report #52.

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The Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPAs), conducted for the National Endowment for the Arts, have shown a steady decline in the rates of adult attendance at most "benchmark" arts events--specifically, classical music and jazz concerts, musical and non-musical plays, opera, and ballet performances--as well as declines in other forms of adult arts participation, including personal creation or performance of art and adult arts education--since 1982. The reasons for these declines, and potential strategies to mitigate or reverse them, are of vital importance to American artists, cultural policymakers, arts organizations, and other stakeholders concerned about the future of American culture. An analysis of 1992 SPPA data found that "arts education was the strongest predictor of almost all types of arts participation (arts performance being the exception)." The present study analyzes data from four administrations of the SPPA--1982, 1992, 2002, and 2008--to address several important questions prompted by that finding. Findings of this study include: (1) Reported rates of childhood arts education declined significantly from 1982 to 2008; (2) Declines were substantial in childhood music, visual arts, and creative writing, while dance and theater increased slightly; (3) It is likely that the declines in music, visual arts, and creative writing represent, in large measure, reductions in in-school arts education; (4) Childhood arts education rose across most of the 20th century before declining in its final decades; (5) Childhood arts education has not been equally distributed by socioeconomic status (SES) or race. Its decline has been concentrated among low-income children and among African American and Hispanic children in particular; and (6) Arts education rates among young adults were extremely volatile during this same period. Appendix on methodology is included. (Contains 26 figures and 57 notes.)

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Article Details
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Author:Rabkin, Nick; Hedberg, E. C.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2011
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