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NEA Study Finds a Drop in Arts Attendance

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#16 pherank


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 02:14 PM


. But football - that's another matter. Way too much coverage for football which is often not provding a good 'product'.

I'm not a sports fan, but I wouldn't say that football or other sports are not good "products".  



Not to stray down another path, but what I am referring to here is in fact a great big discussion in sports land: NFL games suffer from many 'quality' problems due to overwork of the players, and the unquestionable violence of the sport. Some of the problems facing the NFL these days that effect quality and people's perceptions of the  sport:

  1. Use of performance enhancing drugs and illegal drugs (if players are caught it does mean suspension) has been difficult to control.
  2. An inordinate number of off-field criminal offenses by NFL players (and the numbers keep rising).
  3. Concussions are proving to be a big long-term health issue for the sport, and there will continue to be expensive legal issues around this. The sport is dangerous, and there is simply little the NFL can do to prove otherwise, yet many people like football...
  4. The general greed of the NFL league and owners has created longer seasons with pre-season games and now both Monday and Thursday night games that cut down on recovery time for players. There are currently 4 preseason games and 16 regular games, and if the team is 'lucky' they play in the post-season too. From 1947 through 1960, each NFL team played 12 games per season, which would have been easier on the body. But the number of games played has only grown. And then there's this crazy thing about teams being allowed 53 players on their roster, but on game day, they can only choose from 45 to play, and if there are significant injuries during the game the teams can actually run out of players at a particular position, but they are not allowed to pull from the 'extra' players. So what happens? The injured continue to play...

Last year, the NFL had an unprecedented amount of significant injuries, and also off-field criminal problems to deal with, and it definitely affected people's perceptions of the game. Fans want more football, but they are also complaining constantly about the quality of the games they see. This preseason and practice period seemed to end with more players injured than at any other time before. And that seems to be a general perception in NFL land. Fans want to see their favorite star players face off against one another, but what they see a lot these days are the replacements. And then they get to see the replacments get hurt...

#17 bart


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 04:02 PM

It's interesting to compare the arts in terms of the




The rate of decline in arts participation for adults in the United States was most pronounced in theater attendance...



-- BALLET:   -- 2008:  2.9%.   -- 2012:  2.7%.


-- DANCE     -- 2008: 5.2%      -- 2012: 5.6%


-- OPERA:    -- 2008:  2.1%    -- 2012:  2.1%


-- CLASSICAL MUSIC.   -- 2008:  9.3%     -- 2012:  8.8%


-- JAZZ         -- 2008:  7.8%    -- 2012:  8.1%


-- MUSICAL THEATER    -- 2008: 16.7%     --2012: 15.2%


-- MOVIES   -- 2008:   53.3%    -- 2012 59.3%


Some surprises for me:


-- ballet is bigger than opera.   Possibly "theater attendance" includes all those ballet school recitals


-- only jazz, dance (non-ballet), and movies are growing.  (I thought movies weren't doing well.)


This period (2008-12) coincides with what is now being called the Great Recession by many, I suspect that the biggest factors behind this decline (all of which have been mentioned already on this thread) might be  (a) lack of funds, (b) lack of genuinely free time, © the disappearance of quite a few local companies, and possibly (d) stress levels that make chilling out in front of the tv, or at a popular movie, especially appealing.


The study was conducted by the Census Bureau, which interviewed 37,000 people, quite a large sample as these things go.

#18 volcanohunter


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:05 PM

-- ballet is bigger than opera.   Possibly "theater attendance" includes all those ballet school recitals


It shouldn't. The survey questions were prefaced with the statement "With the exception of elementary or high school performances..." I would guess this was intended to exclude school recitals in the respondent's mind.



It's entirely possible that ballet is more readily available, or more frequently available than opera. In many cities it's not unusual for opera companies to stage only three or four productions a year. If the local ballet company presents, let's say, five or six programs, this provides locals with more potential opportunities to attend. And opera tickets are frequently significantly more expensive than ballet tickets, which would also work against opera's popularity. Many cities with no opera or ballet company will nevertheless have a local symphony orchestra, making classical music concerts that much more available.


The reports on the audience survey of 2008 did not mention data on movie-going or general live music attendance. Perhaps the information is intended to provide context. For example, 15% attendance at musicals may not seem like much, but only 59% of Americans go to the movies, despite them being readily available nationwide. Fewer than 9% of Americans go to classical music concerts, but then only 31.6 % of adults go to see live music of any kind.

#19 yudi


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:38 PM

Ballet - 2008 2.9%, 2012 2.7%. (2.7percent, or 6.3 million adults.)  -- This quite surprised me! 


The population of Great Los Angeles area is about 18 million, 2.7% is 488,200. Almost a half of million people go to see ballet?!  The NEA Study probably just asked New Yorkers?


Few years ago, when I lived in L.A., it was very hard to find someone around me who's interested in ballet. I had pushed some of my friends to go to see ABT's Giselle. They loved it! "Its so beautiful!" But, they have never gone to another ballet since then. One day, one of my colleagues told me: "My wife would play cello for a ballet performance by Joffrey Ballet this Friday night, so I have got a free ticket. I am not interested in going. I would like to give it to you!" 



#20 Jayne


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Posted 26 September 2013 - 10:20 PM

What is the population that attends ballet performances in Great Britain?  Is it really higher than the US?  Russia has a long term love affair with ballet, but part of that is the feel-good PR that they have been spoonfed their whole lives, for multiple generations:  Russian ballet is the *best*, it is our national *pride*, (enter related phrases of exceptionalism - are you listening Vladimir Putin?)  


Americans weren't very interested in elite road racing until Greg Lemond came along, and even then it was just a tiny percentage.  But then Lance (Ph)Armstrong began winning, and he had a feel good cancer recovery story.  The same sense of pride and puffed up exceptionalism blinded most of us to the drug use.  This rah-rah nationalism also made ballet more popular in the 1970's.  ABT attracted the *best* defectors from the Kirov.  Balanchine preferred America over the Soviet Union.  


Europeans in general get to see more ballet on broadcast television than Americans, and those broadcasts are often subsidized by government funds.  I think this exposes the population to the ballet from cradle to grave, and so they are more likely to see ballet as normal and part of the local culture.  If you grow up African American, and you practically never see a "star" ballet dancer of the same skin color in the media, why would you be interested in the artform?  Particularly if most of the popular media portrays ballet dancers as snooty skinny white girls who need some rock and roll to shake them up


BET should broadcast performances of DToH, Lines Ballet and Alvin Ailey.  That would be a great platform to make ballet seem viable and part of the American arts fabric to a population that is historically underrepresented.   I'd also like to see the Spanish language TV companies broadcast performances of Latino American dancers.  Sadly the programming directors are not returning my phone calls.   

#21 sandik


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Posted 27 September 2013 - 12:19 PM

Incidentally, I remember a playbill for a fairly recent Ailey run at BAM that included an ad for New York City Ballet's season, which was running concurrently. I'd be genuinely curious to find out whether the advertising was effective in attracting Ailey patrons that hadn't been to City Ballet before. As far as I can recall, ABT did not try to target that audience.


I always encourage presenters to "co-promote" their events -- list other organizations in their programs, offer discounts to ticket holders from other performances, circulate joint promotional material to their mailing lists.  I haven't looked at the NEA study yet, but I know that the demographics of audiences are shifting much more than they have in the past -- artists and arts organizations need to be equally flexible.  This doesn't mean you have to change the art you make -- it means you have to change how you bring it to the attention of you audience.

#22 dirac


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Posted 27 September 2013 - 09:28 PM

African-Americans, like other oppressed groups, tend to be in the avant-garde. They usually set trends, they don't follow them, and  mainstream white audiences, chronically behind the curve, catch up later. By the time the whites are interested in large enough numbers, they've already moved on.


The reasons are surely complex, but I think part of the decline can be attributed to ticket prices and the fact that consumers need more of their household income for basic living expenses, so have less left over to spend on cultural events. Any thoughts?



Without having delved into the material, I'd guess that part of it is the non-recovery recovery. That wouldn't necessarily be too bad for orchestras, opera and ballet, heavily attended by the 1%, but I'd think other performing arts would be hurt. People working mandatory overtime and two jobs are pooped. And there are more attractive entertainment options at home and on your phone than ever before.

#23 Swanilda8


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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:52 AM


-- ballet is bigger than opera.   Possibly "theater attendance" includes all those ballet school recitals


It shouldn't. The survey questions were prefaced with the statement "With the exception of elementary or high school performances..." I would guess this was intended to exclude school recitals in the respondent's mind.




I would imagine that most of the difference between opera and ballet is made up of Christmas trips to the Nutcracker.

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