Fully half of adult Americans, or 97 million people, participate in the arts every year, according to a new survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts. That marks a sharp increase over a 1992 poll, which had only 41% of U.S. adults attending an arts activity over a 12 month period.
The survey was conducted during 1997 by the Westat Corporation of Rockville, MD. More than 12,000 participants were asked about their attendance of live arts events, participation in the arts through broadcast and recorded media, and their personal creation of art.
Out of seven arts activities -- including museums, jazz, classical music, opera, musical plays, straight plays and ballet -- museums proved the most popular, attracting at least one annual visit by 35 percent of those polled. Musical theatre came in second; 25 percent of adults, or an estimated 48 million Americans, took in a musical within 12 months time. Plays were not as popular, drawing only 16 percent or 31 million -- though that was still enough to make dramas the third most popular arts activity.
As far as the creation of art goes, most citizens have stage fright. Only 5 million said they had acted in a play during the year, and only 3.3 million had appeared in a musical. The most popular form of artistic expression? Photography. Almost 33 million said they took photos for artistic purposes.
-- By Robert Simonson