National Arts Index Scores Reveal the Health and Vitality of Arts in the U.S.

Americans for the Arts released its second annual National Arts Index scores last week. The National Arts Index is an annual measure of the health and vitality of arts in the U.S.  The Index score for 2009 is 97.7, down 3.6 percentage points from 101.3 in 2008. A score of 103.9 would bring the Index back to its highest point. 97.7 is the lowest index score in twelve years. Do you think its time for the arts to become taught and trained as an entrepreneurial pursuit?

Here is a summary of their findings:

  • There were 3,000 new nonprofit arts organizations created during the 2007-09 recession years but attendance at mainstream arts organizations and events continues a long-term decline.
  • In 2008, 41% of nonprofit arts groups reported a deficit to the IRS, up from 36% in 2007.

While our country’s flagging economy has surely presented a number of challenges for the arts, the Index does hit some resonating high notes:

  1. Americans are seeking more personal engagement in the arts. Personal arts creation and volunteerism is growing. The number of Americans who personally participated in an artistic activity increased 5% between 2005 and 2009, while volunteering also jumped 11.6 percent.
  2. The number of artists in the workforce has increased 17% from 1996 to 2009 (1.9 to 2.2 million).
  3. Demand for Arts Education is up. There are more college-bound seniors with 4 years of arts or music and in the past decade college arts degrees conferred annually have risen from 75,000 to 127,000.

What does this mean for your community? Comment below about how you see personal arts creation and volunteerism growing in your community or tell us about arts programs that are innovative in building audience demand. And be sure to visit the National Arts Index page.

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