A Closer Look at Arts Engagement in California: Insights from the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

January, 2015

Every four years, the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Census Bureau partner to survey tens of thousands of adults across the country in an attempt to understand how people participate in the arts. Using data from the most recent survey–2012's Survey of Public Participation in the Arts–the James Irvine Foundation partnered with NORC to take a closer look at arts engagement in California.

This report is the first in a two-part study commissioned by the Irvine Foundation to understand what California’s residents do to participate in the arts and, importantly, how that varies across the state’s diverse population. (View the second report, The Cultural Lives of Californians.)

The report finds that attendance at arts nonprofit-sponsored events have fallen, and even more so, that a lot of arts audiences don’t reflect California’s diversity—in terms of race and ethnicity, income, or education level. At the same time, it found that while Californians are attending traditional arts events less, they are participating in arts in many other new and exciting ways. Arts participation has traditionally been understood to mean arts attendance—and this is what the survey explores—but the data shows that we can benefit from a new understanding and definition for arts participation. Explore key findings in this inforgraphic, and view Irvine's blog post on the report.

Download the Report

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