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New Research Shows Change in Arts Participation

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Jun 08, 2015

New research suggests that participation in the arts is changing due to emergent technologies and shifts in cultural expectations. Funded by The James Irvine Foundation, and carried out by researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago, The Cultural Lives of Californians: Insights from the California Survey of Arts & Cultural Participation includes insights on how Californians are producing, consuming, and learning to create art. While the data was gathered only in California, the researchers note that the trends identified in the report have countrywide implications for the arts and culture sector.

Particularly relevant for arts educators, the report finds that over a third (44 percent) of respondents surveyed are “teaching oneself using the Internet or another resource, such as books or other types of guides.” By contrast, only 31 percent of the population spent time learning art in a formal, structured learning environment. The reports analysis suggests that a majority of Californians (51 percent) are continuing to partake in arts learning, but they are often finding new, less formal avenues for instruction.

Some other key findings related to arts learning include:

  • Arts-learning is most popular among young adults, with 69 percent of those aged 18 to 25 engaging in arts-learning.
  • One in five adults (21 percent) aged 75 and older also spent time learning how to make or do art during the prior 12 months.
  • Males aged 35 and older engage in arts learning at significantly lower rates compared to younger males, and the rate at which males engage in arts learning decreases in each older age cohort.


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This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org