On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released the full results from the nation’s largest, most representative survey of adult participation in the arts.

Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) records the different ways that American adults (age 18 and older) engage in the arts, where that engagement takes place, and why adults participate in these activities. The survey report also tracks demographic characteristics of those who participate and respondents’ perceptions of the availability of the arts in their communities. The report covers both national and state-level data as well as selected urban areas. Since 1982, the Arts Endowment has partnered with the U.S Census Bureau to produce the SPPA, with this edition analyzing data from 2017.

Key Findings

The new report tallies U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) who over a 12-month period:

  • Used electronic media to access artistic or arts‐related content (74 percent, or 175 million adults)
  • Read books not required for work or school, and/or read novels and short stories, poems, or plays in particular (57 percent, or 138 million adults).
  • Attended artistic, creative, or cultural activities (54.3 percent, or 128 million adults) with live music performance the most frequent activity
  • Created or performed art (53.7 percent, or 128 million adults) with singing as the most popular form of artistic expression.
  • Learned an art form informally (17 percent, or 41 million adults) or took arts classes or lessons (9.5 percent, or 23 million adults).

Other participation findings are:

  • Among adults who participated in the performing arts—either as creators or performers—62 percent did so to spend time with family and friends. By contrast, most adults who created visual artworks reported doing so because they felt “creative or creatively inspired” (61 percent).
  • More than half of adults who attended artistic, creative, or cultural activities did so more than twice a year.
  • Among adults who sang, made music, danced, or acted, 63 percent did so in the home, while 40 percent did so in a place of worship.

Comparisons between the 2017 SPPA and the previous report in 2012 can be found in U.S. Trends in Arts Attendance and Literary Reading: 2002‐ 2017The raw data, along with online analytics, are at the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture, a free, public data repository funded by the Arts Endowment.

Arts Data Profiles

Along with the report, the NEA published an Arts Data Profile webpage featuring research briefs, maps, and tools on state trends in arts participation

Five maps give a graphic perspective on how states’ rates of participation compare to the national average.

Seven research briefs look at top-ranking states for forms of arts participation, highlights from selected urban areas, and why some states have higher or lower levels of arts participation.

Among the key findings for states in the Southwest:

Attend Events Read Literature Perform/Create
Arizona 48% 51% 34.3%
Utah 67.1% 51.9% 54.1%
Colorado 74.4% 57.3% 43%
Nevada 45% 36.3% 25.3%
New Mexico 48.1% 43.7% 37.6%
United States 54.3% 44.2% 33.4%