Three-quarters of adults in the U.S. engage with the arts through electronic media, according to a new NEA report.

Christy Kuesel
Jan 23, 2020 5:39PM, via National Endowment for the Arts

A museum visitor photographs a painting with their smartphone. Via Piqsels.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults, or some 175 million people, engage with the arts through electronic media, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts. Younger adults tended to use electronic media to access arts-related content at higher rates than older adults, as did those with higher levels of education. The report, which relies on data from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation of the Arts, elucidates how Americans engage with the arts and their reasons for doing so.

Over half of American adults, or 54 percent, reported attending at least one cultural event per year, with the most popular types of events being live music performances, fairs and festivals, and live plays or musicals. Education level retained a particularly strong correlation to participation in arts events. The report found that the the rate at which adults with a graduate degree attended an art event was between 5 and 55 percentage points higher than the rate for adults with lower levels of education.

The report’s authors noted the shift towards Americans not only appreciating the artistic works of others, but wanting to engage with art on their own terms. They wrote:

Thus, through creating a music playlist, browsing a museum’s collection online, or streaming an opera performance, Americans increasingly have freedom to follow their own artistic and cultural pursuits.

Over 53 percent of American adults create or perform art; singing and dancing were the most popular forms of artistic expression. A substantial proportion of Americans are learning art forms as well, with 17 percent doing so informally and 9.5 percent taking classes.

At a regional level, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, and Washington, D.C., had significantly higher rates of attendance at music and theater performances than the rest of the nation. The metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Baltimore had particularly high rates of engagement with the arts through electronic media; nearly 90 percent of participants in both of these areas reported this type of engagement.

Further Reading: People Who Visit Galleries and Museums Live Longer, Study Suggests

Christy Kuesel